Brazil’s Italo Ferreira claimed Olympic surfing’s first-ever gold medal on Tuesday, as American Carissa Moore won the women’s event.
Ferreira, who learned to surf standing on the foam box his father sold fish from, snapped his board on the first wave of his final against Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi.
He had to wait in the sea as a team official brought him a replacement, but he shook off the early setback to score 15.14 to Igarashi’s 6.60.
“I think it’s one of the best days of my life, for sure,” said Ferreira, the 2019 world champion.
“For me that was a long day, and it was a dream come true. In the last couple of months I have been training a lot, just to live in this moment.”
“I just want to say thank you God for the opportunity to be here and do what I love,” he added.
Igarashi had shocked tournament favourite Gabriel Medina in the semi-finals, landing a stunning aerial move late in the contest to beat the Brazilian world number one.
And the Japanese rider’s luck looked to be in when Ferreira snapped his board on the very first wave.
But the Brazilian promptly took control of the contest with an imperious performance, before being carried back up the beach on his team-mates’ shoulders.
“I was super-confident, and when I broke the board I was like ‘Let’s go to the beach and get another one and try again’, and that’s what I did,” said Ferreira.
Australia’s Owen Wright beat Medina to claim the bronze.
In the women’s final, American world number one Moore beat unheralded South African Bianca Buitendag.
Japan’s Amuro Tsuzuki beat Caroline Marks of the US in the bronze-medal match.
The medal events – originally scheduled to take place on Wednesday – were moved forward to Tuesday to take advantage of favourable wave conditions.