- Ben Reed / ISA

In Olympic gold medalists Carissa Moore and Italo Ferreira surfing has two ambassadors that embody the best of the sport, culture and lifestyle.

Moore's gold medal is the continuum of the thousands-year-old tradition of Hawaiian wave riding.

"As a Hawaiian, just seeing Duke Kahanamoku's dream come true to have surfing in the Olympics is super special," Moore remarked after receiving her gold medal.

Carissa Moore and bianca buitendag Olympic celebration Carissa Moore is greeted by silver medalist Bianca Buitendag after clinching the gold in Japan. - Ben Reed / ISA

But even before Kahanamoku won his first gold medal in 1912, Hawaiian surfers were using their platform to speak out. Standing on a pier in New York City on March 1, 1893, upon hearing the news of the fall of the Hawaiian crown, Princess Ka`iulaini, a pioneering surfer that introduced wave-riding to England, explained to a crowd, "[I] have strength to stand up for the rights of my people ... I can hear their wail in my heart and it gives me strength and courage and I am strong."

And Moore, now with a gold medal and four World Titles, pushes not only surfing forward, but also the pride and traditions of the Hawaiian culture and people.

"The scale of this event felt so much bigger," Moore said. "Getting to share the sport with so many people that maybe have never even watched surfing was super special."

And if it seemed like a huge stage for Moore, who grew up a surfing prodigy, the scope of what Ferreira just accomplished must feel giant to him.

Italo Ferreira Olympic Celebration The passion of Italo Ferreira is undeniable. - Sean Evans / ISA

Ferreira's Olympic moment couldn't have been scripted any better. Growing up the son of a fisherman in BaĆ­a Formosa, Brazil, he first learned to surf on the lid of his father's styrofoam cooler.

His raw talent was noticed by Luiz "Pinga" Campos, who has discovered and managed a number of top-tier Brazilian surfers over the years, including World Champion Adriano De Souza and Jadson Andre. Pinga brought Ferreira to San Clemente shaper Timmy Patterson when he was only 12 years old. They've been working together ever since.

"This has been quite a story for me. I started surfing on a cooler top when I was a kid before I got my first real board and won my first event. Because of [my upbringing] I have a lot of passion for the sport," Ferreira said after the awards ceremony.

In 2019, Ferreira won the World Title -- as did Moore -- and he has become widely known as "the people's champ" since. And now, with a gold medal, Ferreira has taken his act to a completely different level.

"All surfers made history here. Every surfer has a piece of this gold medal," Ferreira continued. "I truly believe that the Olympics will change our lives. Not just the medalists, but for all the surfers that competed in this historic event."

The fact that Ferreira could rise from such humble beginnings to become a gold medalist and World Champion, it's literally the stuff movies are made about.

Without a doubt, Olympic gold medals will change the lives of Moore and Ferreira. How it changes the sport of surfing remains to be seen, but with the Games coming to Tahiti in 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028, a whole new generation can look to these Olympic champions for hope and inspiration as they chase their own dreams.

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