'Disgrace to the sport': Surfing world explodes over 'disgusting' act

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

Gabriel Medina has sparked a surfing sportsmanship storm after deliberately sabotaging an opponent to ensure victory.

Medina stunned the surfing world on Thursday at the Pipe Masters in Hawaii when he intentionally dropped in on Caio Ibelli’s wave to make sure his opponent couldn’t beat him.

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Medina was leading fellow Brazilian Ibelli in their head-to-head battle, but Ibelli had priority on one final wave to try and progress.

However Medina deliberately dropped in on Ibelli’s wave to ensure he couldn’t score enough points to beat him.

Medina was rightly penalised for the devious act, but he knew the penalty wouldn’t be enough to see him knocked out.

Gabriel Medina intentionally sabotaged Italo Ferreira. Image: Fuel TV

Medina was docked his second highest score (2.07), but it didn’t matter because his highest score of 4.23 was more than Ibelli’s two-wave total of 1.13.

“I knew if I had an interference I was going to count my big wave,” Medina said afterwards.

“If it’s in the rules, you’ve got to play the game. I’m stoked to make it through. In my head, I knew what I was doing … as I said, it’s in the rules.”

Ibelli said he knew what was about to go down when he saw Medina’s stepdad yelling “Now you can burn him” from the beach.

“It would have been my best wave if he hadn’t burned me,” Ibelli said.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that but it shows what kind of competitor he is. He plays tough but dirty. He’ll do anything to win and I think that’s the mindset of a champion.

“I asked him ‘what the heck was that?’ and he said ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry’. It just makes me want to win more and get him next time.”

Gabriel Medina in action at the Pipe Masters. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Surfing world explodes over ‘disgusting’ act

TV commentators couldn’t believe what they’d seen.

“This is outrageous,” Ronnie Blakey said at the time.

Co-commentator Barton Lynch added. “I don’t know what to say, I’m absolutely baffled.”

“Did he mathematically know he could win it and take it out of the control of Caio by dropping in?

“This might be one of the cleverest tactical manoeuvres we’ve ever seen in the history of the sport.”

Fans and fellow surfers also flocked to social media in shock, with opinion divided about Medina’s act.

However the overriding feeling was one of anger, with some labelling Medina a ‘disgrace’ and ‘disgusting’.

Karma strikes as Medina falls short of world title

Italo Ferreira was later crowned the 2019 world champion, defeating Medina 15.56 to 12.94 in the final to win his first world title.

Ferreira and Medina went head to head in a winner-takes-all final at Pipeline after Kolohe Andino was eliminated by France's Michel Bourez in the last 16.

Defeat for Medina stops him from becoming the first surfer to go back-to-back at Pipeline since the late Andy Irons in 2006.

"It was my dream," Ferreira said.

"I've trained all my life for this. I can't believe it. Thank you God."

with AAP