Adriano de Souza wins 2008 Mark Richards Pro

April 7, 2008 | Surfing
Adriano de Souza: the Brazilian won the 2008 Mark Richards Pro

Brazilian Adriano de Souza has defeated Frenchman Jeremy Flores in the final of the six-star World Qualifying Series $US80,000 Mark Richards Pro at Newcastle’s Merewether Beach.

Currently ranked number nine in the world, the 19-year-old natural-footer never looked like losing to his good friend after racking up a 8.67 on his very first wave that he secured in the opening five minutes of the 30-minute final. But even before the finalists hit the water, it seemed as if the Brazilian had the psychological edge on Flores, who turns 20 in three week’s time.

As both surfers were being introduced to the crowd of several thousand spectators immediately before the final, Flores said that de Souza was "the best surfer in the world in these conditions" - referring to onshore, one-meter waves so often found in Brazil.

With just a couple of minutes on the clock remaining in the heat, de Souza put the result beyond doubt when the judges recorded a 9.33. His final score of 18 was well ahead of Flores’ 9.84. The Brazilian said he was pleased to win the $US10,000 and particularly pleased to beat the Reunion Island born Flores.

"I’ve tried a long time to beat Jeremy-like four times-but this time I got him in the finals. To me Jeremy is the best in the world right now and he will be in the future," he said. "I have pushed myself very hard and have trained a lot this year and this win means a lot to me," he said.

"Before the final started I put it in my mind I had to start really well, so I went out there and got some good waves and put the pressure on Jeremy. For me this event is really important and I will be back next year to defend my title," he said.

"Newcastle feels like my home. I feel it’s very similar to my city, so sometimes in the final I felt like I was at home," de Souza said. A frustrated Flores said he came to Newcastle for fun, but when he made it to the final, he really wanted to win.

"I would have loved to have caught a few waves and have had a good final," he said. Flores said he was not happy about coming second. "I have had so many QS finals and always come second-I wouldn’t be so mad if I could have got a few waves, but there was nothing to do out there," Flores said.

But there was plenty to do for de Souza. Twenty-one year old de Souza announced his arrival on the world surfing stage in 2004, when he became the youngest ever surfer to be crowned the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Junior Champion at just 16.

The Brazilian topped that effort the following year as champion of the WQS in 2005; enough to see him qualify for the world tour in 2006. Flores came into the event as the number one seed and first surfed in the round of 64 last Friday.

Just the third Frenchman and fourth European to qualify for the ASP World Tour, Flores today pocketed US$5,000 to push his career prize winnings past $US200,000.

The current ASP rookie of the year title holder, Flores made history last year when he became the youngest ever surfer to qualify for the elite tour. Both finalists in the Mark Richards Pro went into today’s final having won all heats they contested at Merewether, except for this morning’s round of 16 when they both ran second.

But the internationals proceeded to turn the tables in the semi-finals on the Aussies that caused them to blemish their previously perfect tally-sheets - de Souza with the day’s highest score (18.7) took care of the Gold Coast’s Shaun Gossmann (11.67), while Flores (16.67) knocked out Byron Bay’s Jarrad Sullivan (7.90).

In the quarter-finals, Aussies Kirk Flintoff (Cronulla), Rhys Bombaci (Kiama) and Adam Melling (Lennox Head) were eliminated, as was Brazilian Willian Cardoso.

The last event of the Australian leg of the professional surfing tour will be held at Margaret River in Western Australia.

Source: ASP World Tour

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