Gabriel Medina confirms return to competition after dealing with depression: 'I learned a lot during this time'

The Brazilian surfer hasn't competed since September 2021, when he won this third World Surf League title. In an interview with TV Globo, he claimed to be motivated to increase his surfing legacy, after going through some tough moments in his personal life.

By Sheila Vieira
Picture by Ryan Pierse

Brazilian surfer Gabriel Medina has confirmed his return to the World Surf League (WSL) will be at the end of May 2022, in Indonesia, where he will compete for the first time since September 2021.

In an interview with Brazil's TV Globo which aired on Sunday, April 24, the three-time WSL champion (2014, 2018, 2021) opened up about the difficult time he went through for the past year, dealing with depression after a public dispute with his family, and a divorce. Now, he feels ready to think about sport again.

"This time [away] was good for me. It's not a secret, it's even interesting to talk about mental health. I had depression, I started treating myself with a psychologist. I never imagined being in this situation. It's scary, things stop making sense for you", said the 28-year-old.

"I'm better, happy to be finding myself again. I learned a lot during this time."

Medina: 'There were heats where I was crying going to the water'

In the year that he competed at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021, and won this third world title, Medina was going through turbulent times out of the water. The surfer had disagreements with his mother, Simone Medina, and his stepfather and former coach, Charles Saldanha.

"I started very early, I had a sponsor at age 14. I always had a familiar management, but I got to a point where I needed something more professional, to be more involved in decisions. Every person has their opinion, and all of this happened," said Medina.

The surfer got emotional when talking about the possibility of reuniting with his family.

"I always take everything to the peace side. My dream is to be in harmony with my biological father, my mother, my stepfather, all together. One day it will happen."

Saldanha is currently training Medina's youngest sister, Sophia, who is also a surfer.

Gabriel Medina shared how those moments at home, and the divorce from his wife, model Yasmin Brunet, was having an effect during competitions, revealing how hard it was to keep his focus. "Last year, there were heats where I was crying going to the water. If affected me in some way. I kept calm, never talked about it. I wanted to focus on my job. I'm happy that I was rewarded with a third world title. But it wasn't easy."

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Medina: 'I want to leave a legacy'

After facing his pain, Medina recovered the motivation to extend his legacy in world surfing. The Brazilian missed two events in Hawaii, one in Portugal and two in Australia, one of the them starting this week in Margaret River. His 2022 return will be in G-Land, Indonesia, on May 28.

The WSL already confirmed that Medina will get a wildcard for the competition. Including Indonesia, the Brazilian will have five events this year, including Saquarema, in his home country. Depending on his performance, he might event get to the finals in September.

"I want to win more world titles. I thought I was going to stop at three, but I want more. I'm motivated, entering my best moment, professionally and personally. I want to enjoy this gift God gave me, that is surfing. I want to leave a legacy."

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