World Surfing League : Jeremy Flores Defeats Gabriel Medina to Win Billabong Pro Tahiti
"That 9.87 in the Final was the wave that got things started for me"
Wednesday 26 August 2015 –
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Flores claimed the second CT victory of his career to jump up five places on the Jeep Leaderboard to 7th. One of the standout performers of the event, Flores defeated some of the world’s best surfers - Medina, C.J. Hobgood (USA), Kelly Slater (USA) and Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) - before claiming victory today.
“Gabriel (Medina) is one really tactical guy so I thought I’m going to play his game,” said Flores. “He’s really aggressive in the water so I thought I’m going to be even more aggressive. Hats off to him, he’s surfed amazing all event and that was definitely one of the hardest heats.”
Today’s win backs up a Semifinal berth for Flores at the Fiji Pro and marks an end to a disappointing few years on the CT with his best result of the year and his first event win since the Billabong Pipe Masters in 2010. The result was made even more remarkable because Flores came into the event following a serious head injury suffered during a freesurf that forced him to miss the J-Bay Open and wear a helmet throughout competition in Tahiti.
“That 9.87 in the Final was the wave that got things started for me,” continued Flores. “I was sitting out there getting nervous, waiting for waves. I reminded myself that even if I lost the heat I’m the luckiest guy in the world to be out here. I just tried to stay calm.”
“The last couple of years I haven’t been getting the results I wanted, but more importantly I wasn’t having fun,” Flores said. “Surfing is the most beautiful sport in the world and if you’re not having fun surfing then there’s something wrong. I had to really restart and regain my mindset. I did that by being close to my family and my loved ones and it’s because of them that I got back to having fun and being hungry like I used to be. This year I’ve been out there to win it and if it doesn’t happen it’s all good.”
Flores came out firing in the Final, posting a near-perfect 9.87 on his first wave to put the pressure on Medina. With half the heat gone the Brazilian had only a 0.73 heat total while Flores controlled the lineup and found another solid score, a 7.00. Medina answered quickly with a tube of his own for a 7.17 but was left searching for an excellent 9.17 to turn the heat. He continued to hunt the lineup as the minutes ticked by but with only a 6.03 on offer for the 2014 event winner, Flores took the win.
“I think I made a mistake at the beginning to let Jeremy (Flores) have priority,” Medina said. "The ocean was too slow and I couldn’t find the score. I’m happy with a second place though and I’m happy for Jeremy as well especially after his injury. I’m stoked to be back on the podium. It was a tough one and I wish we had more waves but I’m happy with the result.”
Runner-up Medina also moves up five places on the Jeep Leaderboard from 15th to 10th place. The result today is Medina’s best of the year and his first Final appearance since the Billabong Pipe Masters in 2014. He previously dispatched Owen Wright (AUS) and Kai Otton (AUS) en route to his 10th CT Final today.
2015 WSL Jeep Leaderboard Top 5 (after Billabong Pro Tahiti):
- 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 34,950 pts
- 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 34,700 pts
- 3: Owen Wright (AUS) 34,400 pts
- 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) 33,200 pts
- 4: Filipe Toledo (FRA) 33,200 pts
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ASP World Tour : Gabriel Medina is the 2014 ASP World Champion