Filipe Toledo announcement leaves surfing world stunned amid big wave controversy

The reigning world champion is stepping away from the WSL tour.

Filipe Toledo.
Filipe Toledo is taking a break from the World Surf League. Image: Getty

Defending men's surfing champion Filipe Toledo will step away from the 2024 world tour to address mental health issues following a week in which his appetite for big waves was again questioned. The Brazilian, a two-time world champion, announced his decision on Instagram following a challenging period in Hawaii in which he mysteriously pulled out of the Pipe Pro at the famous Banzai Pipeline.

"It is with a heavy heart that I announce today that I am withdrawing for the remainder of the 2024 Championship Tour season. This decision has been so hard for me to make, and it comes after days of discussion with those closest to me," Toledo wrote.

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"The WSL (World Surf League) has been very supportive, and I am very grateful that they have granted me the wildcard for the start of the 2025 season. I am committed to coming back better than ever.

"In the past, I have been honest about some of my challenges not only with injuries, but also with mental health. Competing at the highest level for the past decade has taken a toll on me, and I need a break to recover for the next chapter of my career."

Filipe Toledo.
Filipe Toledo after winning the 2023world title. (Photo by Pat Nolan/World Surf League via Getty Images)

The WSL backed Toledo's decision and confirmed he will be granted a wildcard to the 2025 tour. Jessi Miley-Dyer, WSL Chief of Sport, said: "The commitment and dedication involved in competing at the highest level can be all-consuming.

"We support Filipe’s decision to prioritise his mental and physical health as he takes a step back. We hope he has the time and space to recover this year and look forward to seeing him back amongst the world’s best via the WSL CT wildcard in 2025."

Filipe Toledo in doubt for 2024 Olympics at Teahupo'o

It's still uncertain whether Toledo will represent Brazil at this year's Olympics, with the surfing event to be held at Tahiti's unforgiving reef break Teahupo'o. Toledo recorded a heat score of zero in the 2015 Tahiti Pro at Teahupo'o and has openly discussed his fear of the break after a terrifying wipeout in 2018.

He went on to win two world titles but can’t shake a reputation for being a lion in small waves and a mouse in the big stuff. The pile on intensified last week when Toledo caught just two waves in 30 minutes at the Pipe Pro, recording a lowly 1.77 points before withdrawing from the contest with "food poisoning".

"To the critics on duty, and the world champions who comment on social media, believe what you want, I'm not here to prove anything to you!" Toledo later wrote on social media. "My health is my priority! To those cheering me on, thank you very much! We are together haha we will be back better and stronger!" That remains to be seen.

Readers seeking support and information can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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