Picture by PABLO JIMENEZ

Italo Ferreira exclusive: Hungrier than ever

The Brazilian surfer shares his ambitions for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the summer of 2021, how his life changed since winning the 2019 world title and who his biggest rival is.
By Ashlee Tulloch

Being a surfing world champion has a price. Everyone wants your scalp.

Italo Ferreira knows it, but it only makes him hungrier.

"I think I will keep hunting because the more I chase, the more I get. I can't prevent my rivals from gaining confidence over me without putting pressure on them," he exclusively tells Olympic Channel.

The Brazilian's used to going up against the best in the world, and conquering his greatest opponent is a constant challenge.

"My biggest rival? I've always said it's my mind. If I can control and balance my thoughts on what I'm going to do in the water, I think I can achieve my goals."

Big plans, big dreams

His wishlist for 2021 is ambitious.

But why wouldn't it be. The 26-year-old made five WSL Championship Tour finals in 2019, winning three before going on to take the overall title.

He also claimed the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games world title in emphatic fashion.

"The ideal scenario would be a gold medal inside the world championship cup. That would be a nice picture to see on my table."

Surfing will make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.

While it's a fact Ferreira has got used to, the significance of the Games continues to grow.

“I think (the Olympics) are another world, ‘out of every rule’. Everything about this competition is special, it’s a huge event, the whole world will be connected to it. I’m going to have a big chance to show my talent to the people following the event.

There's also an expectation that he will perform well, given that the Japanese waves will suit his style of aerial surfing.

Italo Ferreira's life of a champion

His 2019 world title was seen as a long time coming for many fans of the Brazilian.

His victory in Hawaii also sealed his Olympic ticket and his world changed in more ways than one.

"After the world title, what changed in my life? I think how people recognise my work," he tells Olympic Channel.

Had COVID-19 not have taken grip of the world we may have seen him secure another world title in 2020. But his quest has resumed in 2021.

"Of course, if all this (the pandemic) didn’t happen I would be competing again. I would go for a second title and the Olympics, that were postponed too. Many things have happened during this period, I had some time for myself, to train a bit more, to improve my surfing, enjoy the people around me, do surf trips that I couldn’t do before because of the events."

Giving back

For all his success, the Brazilian is still eager to help the next generation of surfers from his nation.

Along with two-time world champion Gabriel Medina, Italo is proving Brazil is a surfing nation to be reckoned with.

“(Brazilian) surfing is living one of its best moments without any doubt. We have a generation that has changed the scenery of surfing and can still chase many titles during this journey. The new generation is coming up strong. Some Brazilian youngsters are developing fast. I think this can help us in the future." - Italo Ferreira.

He acknowledges it's not a smooth path for youth of his home country but it's something he wants to change.

"Brazil is not one of the best places for athletes. The Brazilian management is not helping athletes in the best possible way, so some of them give up and others lose a bit of focus on their goals. I think in a few years this will change and we can have big events and athletes can compete and achieve their goals.

"I’m helping a kid, I’d like to help more people. I have some project that I think can change the life of some kids, like my life changed through surfing. This is a goal for the future and it’s getting real.

As someone who's risen through the ranks and proved he has what it takes to be the best, he has some simple advice for anyone who's struggling with the complicated times we are living in during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Keep calm and spend time in the water for the whole day. I think this is the best option. Forget about what’s happening."

** Lookout for Italo Ferreira in our upcoming Olympic Channel Original Series - Olympic State of Body.

A fast paced, entertaining series featuring science based Olympic training facts and statistics that can inspire fans to build their own paths to success, no matter the conditions, just like their favorite Olympians.

Launching in May 2020.