Italo tries to confidently challenge Toledo on the basis of energy and coffee


Owner of the best campaign of the season, Filipe Toledo, 27, arrives at the final stage of the World Surfing Championship waiting for a challenger. Four athletes, among them the also Brazilian Italo Ferreira, 28, fight to dispute the final duel with the leader of the ranking in the waves of Lower Trestles, in San Clemente, in the United States.

Ferreira, 2019 champion and fourth place in the 2022 classification, is in the first round of the draw. He will face Japanese Kanoa Igarashi, 24, fifth, in a rematch of the match that won him the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. The winner will face the third, Australian Ethan Ewing, 24. From this confrontation will come the second opponent, also Australian Jack Robinson, 24.

Only then will the rival of Toledo be known, in a best-of-three final. That is, Italo will have to win five heats and dispute up to six to take the championship again. But he is known as the most energetic surfer on the circuit and has no doubt he can finish the marathon at the top.

“Ah, my brother, it’s Red Bull inside!”, smiled the native of Bahia Formosa, without missing the opportunity to mention the name of his sponsor. “If I’m going to have six heats, it’s going to be 12 cans until the end. Apart from the coffees!”

Joking aside, he said he did intense preparation for the Finals, as the final event of the season is called, with everything to be resolved in one day, in a window between this Thursday (8th) and next Friday (16th). The interview given to Sheet was squeezed between training sessions at a fast pace.

“I’ve dedicated myself and I’m dedicating myself a lot. When I’m done here, I have to get back to the gym. I have one more workout, because I know it’s going to be a journey to the last heat, to the last guy to be beaten. I need to keep my head. well, the strong body too, armored,” he said.

The way is much shorter to Filipe in San Clemente, where he lives. Finalist in five of the ten qualifying stages in what is already his best year in the world league, the paulista from Ubatuba spent almost the entire competition with the yellow shirt, worn by the leader. In the final, he will face a possibly packed opponent. And possibly tired.

“There’s this side, of catching a guy coming fast. But training is being done. I’m in the water, testing a board. I’ll be prepared. I only see an advantage in being in first place, a physical and even psychological advantage. I’m very calm. “, said.

In 2021, Toledo reached the Finals in third place. The fourth, the American Conner Coffin, and the second, Italo, won. In the decision, he fell to the leader, a then-inspired Gabriel Medina, who has been absent from more than half of the circuit this season. Without the necessary score to fight for the tetra, he bet on the one he defeated in the last edition and declared he was rooting for him.

“Gabriel has a lot of experience, three titles. It’s not a compliment from anyone’s mouth. So, it really brings confidence, an extra inspiration. He missed us here for another year. But who knows, next year I won’t get some change in the final?”, he teased.

This is the relationship between the members of what became known as the “Brazilian Storm”, the Brazilian storm that took over men’s surfing since the first Medina title, in 2014. There is friendship, but there is also a fierce rivalry, typical of those who compete the domain in one modality.

Italo needs to overcome three rivals before thinking about Filipe, but he already knows what his target is. Defeated by his compatriot in the 2021 semifinals – and in the three disputes from 2022 so far –, he wants to fight back in the biggest battle, the one that is worth the title.

“This heat will be interesting. Last year, my strategy was wrong. I’m now having the opportunity to beat the same guy”, he replied, almost sure about the names of the decision.

“Gee, Trestles is an incredible wave. There’s a right, there’s a left, I can fly one way, I can fly the other, I can beat both sides!”, added Ferreira, in his characteristic way, widening his eyes.

He’s also been quite eye-popping to the judges throughout the year. Some of his defeats were questioned, as in the duel with Jack Robinson in Bells Beach, Australia, a result considered unfair by almost all the specialized critics.

Italo marched to the judges’ booth – as Filipe had done at other points in his career, when he was suspended for his fury. Afterwards, he tried to listen to them more calmly. He was not convinced of the justifications. He’s only convinced himself that he needs to do more to succeed.

“I know I have to surf twice as many guys always. I have it in my mind: I can’t leave doubts, because doubt really weighs a little on the other side. But ok. We play the game in the best way possible. enter the water and leave no space for the opponent”, he said.

Toledo, on the other hand, today shows much less aggressiveness than it once did. Having overcome mental health problems and situations in which he faced depression, he started to smile a lot more since his already great last season.

Even in the decisive defeat to Medina he gladly accepted the champion’s warning: “Your time will come.” Since then, he dominated the championship and put himself in the position he wanted, one step away from what he dreamed of.

“Today I am closer, better placed, better prepared. I have a big chance, yes,” he said, showing a renewed faith in himself. “I won’t deny that after the year I’ve done it, I’m much more confident. Everything that happened made me prepared for this exact moment. Now, it’s just a case of enjoying the process and being happy.”

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