Finalists in All Divisions Revealed as Pismo Beach Prepares to Deliver Para Surfing Gold

December 10th, 2021

In an intense day of competition, it was Matt Formston who first brought the heat to Pismo Beach on Friday, firing up the crowd with a massive two-turn combo. The visually impaired Australian received a 9.0 on a wave that easily could have been perfect 10 had he completed his third big hit. His two-wave total of 17.43 set the high mark for the day.

Jose Martinez (USA) matched the highest single wave score of the event with a 9.50 delivered in the final minutes of an extremely closely contested and exciting Men’s Prone 2 semi-final.

Former gold medalist Davi Teixeira (BRA) was eliminated after an incredible buzzer-beating moment from Chile’s Claudio Morales. Last minute heroics also saw Argentina’s Nicolas Gallegos and Jesse Billauer of USA advance into their respective Prone 1 and Prone 2 finals in the dying seconds.

The most passionate performance of the event so far came from Adi Klang of Israel. Winning the first Men’s Stand 2 semi-final, Klang progressed along with his teammate Nachman Balulu. His screams of joy could be heard across the entire area as he let spectators know exactly how excited he was. “I can’t believe it, I’m in the final and I’m going to get another medal. Now it doesn’t matter the color. I’m just so happy!”


USA's Jose Martinez on one of the best waves of the day. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

Several former ISA World Champions vying to be first woman to win three gold medals

Across stacked women’s fields, defending champions Sam Bloom (AUS), Victoria Feige (CAN) and Melissa Reid (ENG) are each the current top seeds of their classifications heading into finals day. Meanwhile Alana Nichols (USA) is looking strong as the only woman in the Sit classification, the sole Open division of the competition.

Any one of the four women could make history this week. Should one of them achieve their third gold medal and none of the others find success, that woman would officially mark their name in the record books.

Australia’s Sarah Jane Gibson challenges the title in her first attempt

Losing most of her vision through diabetes at the age of 10, Sarah Jane Gibson of Australia began her surfing journey late in life.

“I didn’t start surfing until I retired, which was in 2016, and a year after that I broke my hip. So I didn’t get much of a good start,” she said.

Her journey to the final of her first ISA World Para Surfing Championship has exceeded her expectations. “It’s so supportive, everyone’s just unreal, really friendly, really inclusive. I love it, it’s really cool.”

Sarah Jane Gibbons from team Australia on a 7.0 score wave. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

Elias Figue Diel declares this to be the year he brings home gold for Brazil

After multiple podium finishes, Brazil’s Elias Figue Diel is confident he can claim his first Title. “This year the gold is mine,” he stated.

A former junior surfing champion and black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Diel stayed out of the ocean for 15 years following an accident that left him visually impaired at the age of 16.

Now Diel has found healing through his para surfing journey. “My recovery was very long. I started surfing again and I’m very happy to be in the water with friends having fun. That’s the most important thing to me.”

Jesse Billauer from team USA on the last minute right that took him to the finals. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

ISA President Fernando Aguerre said:

“It’s great to know that the ISA is tearing down the old paradigm of who can and who can’t surf. When we started the first Para Surfing World Championships in La Jolla a few years ago, there were just a handful of competitors from a few countries. That first event, and subsequent ones lit the flame of what we see today as the Para Surfing fire all over the world.

“I am very happy to see that this Para Surfing Movement is strong and flourishing and this event is a testament to its growth.

“As we head into finals day, these passionate performances from first class athletes are paving the way for future Paralympic glory.”

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