Santiago Muñiz: the 2018 ISA World Surfing Games gold medalist | Photo: Reed/ISA

Santiago Muñiz claimed the gold medal in the Open Men division at the 2018 ISA World Surfing Games, held in Tahara, Japan.

In a tight final, the surfer from Argentina beat local favorite Kanoa Igarashi, Peruvian Lucca Mesina, and Japanese sensation Shun Murakami.

"I am the world champion! Again! I have now qualified for the 2019 Pan American Games, and I can dream of Tokyo 2020. I can't believe it! I am so happy right now," expressed Muñiz.

Santiago secured his second gold medal at the World Surfing Games, after winning his division in 2011 in Panama.

Igarashi and Mesina will also join Muñiz in the Pan American Games, in Lima, where surfers will get a chance to earn a ticket to the Olympic Games.

"This is a very important event because it is the first time surfer have equal slots for men and women. It reflects our commitment to promoting gender equality across surfing," concluded Fernando Aguerre, president of the International Surfing Association (ISA).

Aguerre has just commenced his ninth term as the leader of the governing body for the sport of surfing. He was first elected in 1994.

2018 ISA World Surfing Games | Open Men's Final

1. Santiago Muñiz (ARG) 14.63
2. Kanoa Igarashi (JAP) 13.67
3. Lucca Mesina (PER) 12.93
4. Shun Murakami (JAP) 9.96