Stolen passport, typhoon, borrowed surfboard, and denim shorts: Italo Ferreira's miracle heat at the ISA World Surfing Games

The Brazilian's Tokyo 2020 Olympic dreams are still alive, after arriving in Miyazaki Japan with no time to spare. 

By Ashlee Tulloch

Somehow Italo Ferreira's dream of competing in the surfing event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is still alive.

The Brazilian had to take part in the ISA World Surfing Games in Japan to remain eligible.

But at the start of his heat on Wednesday (11th September) the situation was looking grim. Ferreira was nowhere to be seen.

Theft of a dream?

The drama began on Sunday (8th September) when Ferriera was in the USA and thieves stole his car.

Inside was his Brazilian passport, with all the visas required to travel the world and compete as a professional surfer.

That included an American visa, which Ferreira needs to take part in the WSL Freshwater Pro event at the WSL Surf Ranch in California from 19th September.

Even making it to the events he needed to surf well at seemed impossible.

But as he told Olympic Channel at the event, he never gave up hope.

Three into two doesn't go

The fight for spots at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is a fierce one.

There are 2 qualification spots available for Brazilian men.

He may be world number six on the WSL Championship Tour right now, but Ferreira is the third ranked male surfer from his country, behind current world number four, Gabriel Medina and current world number one, Filipe Toledo.

Faced with missing one or both of the crucial qualifying events, Ferreira decided to apply for a new passport, travel to Japan for the ISA World Surfing Games, and apply for the U.S. visa at the consulate in Tokyo.

The timeline would have been tight, even before his flight was delayed by a typhoon.

With the visa appointment rescheduled for the day of his heat, and with a two-hour flight from there to Miyazaki, The Brazilian needed something of a miracle.

Had his heat not been delayed by an hour, Ferreira would have arrived after it ended. Instead he got to the beach with nine minutes remaining.

A calculated decision to not wait for his bags and surfboard at the airport also paid off.

He pulled on a pair of denim shorts, borrowed a board from rival Toledo, and took to the waves.

Amazingly Ferreira went on to win the heat.

His Tokyo 2020 qualification hopes are still alive.

As said on Instagram afterwards: "If you have a problem in your life, DO NOT GIVE UP. BELIEVE! In the end it will be all right, just believe it is possible."


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