South African Team captain Antony Smyth (45) did his country proud at the inaugural ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship presented by the Challenged Athletes Foundation when he secured a Silver medal in the Stand Final.
Smyth was one of the most impressive competitors throughout the event and deserved his place on the podium alongside Gold medal winner Mark “Mono” Stewart of Australia.
The inspirational leader of the South African team said afterwards “ Winning a Silver medal is an amazing honour. I am so proud of my team’s achievements. I would not be here without the support of family and friends. Ultimately this is about Adaptive Surfing and the courage of all the competitors. This has been a life changing experience for the whole team. Everyone wins”
The South African team was made up of Smyth (Hout Bay) Dries Millard (Langebaan), Jean Paul Veaudry (East London),Bruce Campbell (Durban) and official, Bongani Xulu (Ballito).
In the exciting Stand Final, Stewart posted 11.13 points out of a possible 20 narrowly edging Smyth, who scored 10.66, into second spot. Brazil’s Alcino “Pirata” Neto won the Bronze medal and Hawaii’s Mike Coots took Copper.
After winning Gold the 52-year-old champion spoke about his accomplishment.
“It’s a dream come true. I think everyday I’ve had a tear in my eye seeing people who are so dedicated and love the ocean as much as I do.
“I’ve been waiting 35 years for this event, but I now know that the sky is the limit with Adaptive Surfing. The future is in the hands of all the young people you’ve seen here this week. I can’t wait to see what happens next.”
The historic event culminated yesterday at La Jolla Shores in grand fashion with the crowning of the first-ever ISA World Adaptive Surfing Champions.
Demonstrating the international profile of this ISA World Championship, the Gold Medallists came from four continents. Adaptive surfers from 18 countries cheered them on, showcasing the international support that has been evident throughout the competition.
The newly crowned Gold Medallists were Bruno Hansen (DEN) in Prone, Jesse Billauer (USA) in Assist, Mark “Mono” Stewart (AUS) in Stand and Fellipe Lima (BRA) in Upright.
Fellipe Lima, who made history as the first athlete to receive a Gold Medal, said:
As the contest culminated with the Finals Felipe Lima of Brazil became the first athlete to win Gold when he won the Upright Division. “I couldn’t be happier than I am now. It’s amazing to see this ISA World Championship happen. It has always been my dream, not just to be a World Champion, but also to see the sport grow. This is just the start.”
USA athletes Jeff Munson, Chris Oberle and Freddy Carrillo finished second, third and fourth respectively.
USA’s Jesse Billauer got out to an early lead in the Assist Final that he never lost, earning Gold for the host country. Taking the Silver was fan favourite, 10-year-old Davi Teixeira from Brazil, followed by Juan Martin De Posadas from Uruguay with Bronze and the only female medallist, Darian Haynes from Hawaii with Copper.
An emotional Billauer had this to say after winning his Gold medal.
“After I got injured, competition was not something that I thought about, and now I am the ISA World Champion. It’s amazing to be a part of this and have all of the countries involved.”
Popular Bruno Hansen from Denmark put on an impressive performance en route to win Gold in the Prone Division. USA Team Captain, Christiaan Bailey won Silver, Spain’s Alvaro Bayona took Bronze and USA’s Ryan Baker won the Copper medal
Hansen explained, “I’ve been training hard for ten years, trying to get my mind in the right place. I lost my way completely and Surfing brought me back to where I am.”
ISA President Fernando Aguerre spoke after the Closing Ceremony.
“This is an ISA World Championship that will be talked about for years to come. Adaptive Surfing history has been made in La Jolla. I would not only like to congratulate the four athletes that received Gold Medals, but also at all 69 competitors who took part in this historic competition. All of the athletes will return home as ambassadors of Adaptive Surfing. This is only the start of something much bigger and wider reaching that we will see grow and develop in the years to come.”
For a full list of results, visit: http://isaworlds.com/adaptive/en/results/