Ichinomiya (Japan) (AFP)

It was well worth a last ride in the waves, for fun: the American Carissa Moore and the Brazilian Italo Ferreira became the first Olympic surfing champions on Tuesday, in Ichinomiya.

Gray sand, finally beautiful waves after two days of calm and above all a sincere joy, shared by the winners, accustomed to victories in the professional world but who responded to the Olympic Games, carried by the amateur world: the surf succeeded its entry, and Moore and Ferreira are not for nothing.

The Brazilian Ferreira, first of all, is a remarkable figurehead for surfing.

As a child, Italo Ferreira rode on a polystyrene plate.

But it is Olympic gold that this son of a fisherman from northeastern Brazil came to seek at the Tokyo Games, crowned with his 2019 world champion title.

"One day, a cousin lent me a board. It was broken, but it was always better than polystyrene," said the 27-year-old surfer, just before the Olympics, during an interview at the AFP by videoconference from his hometown of Baia Formosa.

- "Half paid in fish" -

"After that, my father was finally able to buy me a board, he paid half in fish, the other with money".

Ferreira is a proud representative of the "Brazilian storm", the Brazilian storm that has rocked world surfing for almost a decade.

Three Brazilians occupy the first places in the world ranking, with Italo Ferreira, Gabriel Medina (4th in Tokyo) and Felipe Toledo, not qualified for the Olympics, each country being limited to two representatives.

For Carissa Moore, the story is different but the symbol just as strong.

She was the big favorite in this first Olympic tournament and, at 28, did not miss her chance.

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Moore, a four-time World Surf League winner, is the youngest surfer in history to win a stage in the WSL (the private circuit of the World Surf League), which rules the professional world of surfing.

It was 2011 and she was 18.

So Tuesday, she did not hide her pleasure, once sacred, and after taking her head in her hands: drunk with joy, arms in the air, the surfer offered herself a last wave to ride to reach the beach where she fell into the arms of her opponent, then of her clan who were waiting for her to wrap her in the American flag.

The professional worlds (private circuit of the World Surf League) and amateur (International Surfing Federation) have agreed to allow the elite of surfers to participate in the Tokyo Olympics, by renouncing the principle of an artificial pool in favor of a natural Park.

They did well, surfing made its entry into the Games.

© 2021 AFP