Gabriel Medina: Athlete of the Year 2021 by SurferToday | Photo: WSL

Gabriel Medina has been named "Athlete of the Year 2021" by SurferToday.

In the second pandemic year of the 21st century, SurferToday opted to pick and highlight a single sportsperson's career performance.

Here's why.

Once again, several professional water sports world tours were canceled or drastically downsized, making it difficult to assess the quality and consistency of all surfing, bodyboarding, kiteboarding, and windsurfing athletes involved in competition and free riding.

Nevertheless, there was someone who had a near-perfect year.

After marrying the Brazilian model and actress Yasmin Brunet and joining forces with surf coach Andy King, Gabriel Medina stepped up his game.

He finished runner-up at the Pipeline Masters, Newcastle Cup, and Surf Ranch Pro and won the Narrabeen Classic and Rottnest Search before claiming the World Surf League (WSL) Finals at Lower Trestles.

Medina's worst result was ninth place at Margaret River.

At the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the three-time world champion missed the bronze medal to Owen Wright by 0.20 points.

Gabriel Medina: the stand-out surfer of the 2021 WSL Finals | Photo: WSL

Total Control

Brazil's first-ever surfing world champion seems to have found personal stability that clearly influences his competitive performance.

Medina's consistency levels put him way above his opponents in 2021, and that was particularly clear at the WSL Finals.

The Southern California wave-riding amphitheater saw him battling for a world title against an in-form Filipe Toledo.

Despite winning both heats by a narrow margin, Medina did not allow his fellow countryman any chance of taking the game to a final surf-off.

Surf fans, commentators, and media professionals were almost unanimous over who dominated the 2021 season.

Gabriel Medina was the surfer of the year.

At 28, the Brazilian from São Paulo is on top of his game and seems capable of extending his dominance for another decade.

An Enigmatic Surfer

Medina has become a tactics-and-strategy master with above-average wave reading skills.

His aerial arsenal is probably one of the finest and richest on the planet and, on the face of the wave, the three-time world champion is applying more power than in his early 20s.

Medina is a power surfer in the making with the creativity and talent to take air surfing to new heights.

If he continues to add layers to his performance, his opponents will surely have to rely on more than just fitness and flair to steal the show.

And if you add up his unpredictable personality and emotional behavior to the mix, we end up with a cryptic competitor that is often hard to read.

The year 2021 was Gabriel Medina's greatest professional season to date.

But three world titles are not enough, and we could bet the winner of the 2021 ESPY Award for Best Men's Action Sports Athlete is just warming up.

The sport of surfing needs Gabriel Medina at his best.

Time to show us all you've got hidden in the bag, "Funky Cold Medina."


Words by Luís MP | Founder of SurferToday.com

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