Brazilian Jesse Mendes says his Olympic aspirations are over. In 2022, he drew on his grandmother’s Italian roots to obtain citizenship and compete under the Italian flag. Mendez’s motivation for doing so was “100 percent Olympic,” he said. There are still 18 spots left in the Paris 2024 qualification system to be decided, but he will put the struggles of competition behind him in 2024 and skip the QS circuit and the final Olympic qualifier, the World Surfing Games in February. intend.
“At the end of last year, I started thinking about things and realized that my heart wasn’t in it anymore,” Mendez said. inertia About his competitive surfing. “If you’re not giving it your all, why should you travel around the world (competing) and be depressed if you lose?”
“(The Olympics) was no longer a dream for me,” Mendez added. “I got a little burnt out on the game. The hardest thing was just to commit. There’s a lot that comes with that. And it’s hard to do this because they’re putting so much energy into it. Hats off to everyone. They put their whole lives into it. We all think competitors just put on a jersey and go on a trip. And even when the waves are the worst, They get paid to surf. But there’s so much more behind it, like training, thinking, preparing, thinking almost 24/7. And that takes a lot of energy out of you. .”
Mendez was just one of a handful of surfers who realized they had a better chance of qualifying for the Olympics by changing countries. Given that surfing’s Olympic qualification system is limited to two men and women per country (with a few caveats), Connecticut has 10 fellow Brazilians vying for that spot. Athletes like Mendes sought an easier option: switching nationalities. . Surfers like Kanoa Igarashi came to Japan from America. Brisa Hennessy went to Costa Rica from America. Tatiana Weston-Webb (Mendez’s wife) went to Brazil from the United States. Several other surfers followed.
It was Mendes’ idea to contact the Italian surfing federation in 2022 and inform them about his Italian heritage. He was hoping to qualify for his CT in the 2023 WSL as an Italian. After failing to qualify, he tried again for the 2023 ISA World Surfing Games, but this too was in vain. At that time, he contacted the federation again and informed them that his goal was to move away from competition. Mendez said the federation was shocked but understanding.
Although Mendes is moving away from Olympic qualification, he doesn’t deny the value of winning a medal. “I have nothing against people who are happy to be Olympians,” Mendez said. “My wife’s biggest dream is for her to be an Olympic gold medalist above all else. But for me, that just didn’t exist.”
As for Mendes’ plans for 2024, he plans to work closely with main sponsor Body Glove, create new surf editorials and do some web commentary at the WSL. He plans to publish a new compilation featuring surf trips in Portugal and Indonesia at the beginning of the new year. But don’t be surprised if you see Mendes wearing a competitive jersey in 2024. “I’m not opposed to holding events where the waves are rough,” he added.