- WSL

From Barrels to backhand snaps to sky-high aerial maneuvers, the journey to Gabriel Medina's Third World Title win was one to go down in history. Medina set himself apart all year, leading the rankings by over 10,000 points to the nearest competitor going into the Rip Curl WSL Finals at Lowers Trestles this past September.

It was a whirlwind year for the Brazilian surfer. He not only spent 2021 traveling the world with his wife Yasmin Brunet, but also traveled to Tokyo for the Summer Olympics for the debut of the sport of surfing. When he wasn't busy winning heats he was enjoying each moment with an open heart, a new and fresh mindset going into another year on tour.

Gabriel achieved one of his life long goals this year, winning three World Titles and putting himself among the ranks of Andy Irons, Mick Fanning, and Tom Curren. Let's take a look back into the WSL Photo Departments most defining photos that lead up to Gabriel's third World Title win.

Starting The Year Off Right At Pipeline

It's no surprise that Gabriel Medina is a well rounded surfer. And it when it comes to barrel riding he has proven himself time and time again. In December of 2020 at the first event of the season, he placed second to local icon John John Florence at the Billabong Pipe Masters presented by Hydro Flask and took his combination of tube riding and aerial maneuvers to a whole new level. The two competitors pushed each other to the podium, starting off the year with a solid accomplishment under his belt.

The result at Pipeline started Medina's lead over the rest of the playing field. He made it known that he was back and ready for action after loosing the 2019 World Title to Italo Ferreira at this exact wave just one year back.

PIPELINE, HI - DECEMBER 20: Two-time WSL Champion Gabriel Medina of Brazil winning Heat 7 of Round 4 of the Billabong Pipe Masters Presented by Hyro Flask on December 20, 2020 in Oahu, Hawaii. (Photo by Brent Bielmann/World Surf League via Getty Images) In the barrel at Pipleine on the North Shore of Oahu, Gabriel Medina exemplifies his mastery of the wave after putting in the time each winter. - WSL / Brent Bielmann

Savoring Each Moment At Newcastle

Medina has always been a man of faith and takes the time before paddling out to his heats to pray, asking for guidance in the water. The Rip Curl Newcastle Cup presented by Corona was the second stop on the 2021 CT tour and the conditions were perfect for showcasing a diversity of maneuvers. His turns were on fire receiving an 8.60, the highest wave score in the final, against fellow Brazilian Italo Ferreira. He came up short, finishing in second once again.

After two second place finishes, Gabriel was gaining momentum and showing consistency as the trajectory for the rest of his year.

NEWCASTLE, AUS - APRIL 9: Two-time WSL Champion Gabriel Medina of Brazil surfing in Heat 1 of Round 4 of the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup presented by Corona on April 9, 2021 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Cait Miers/World Surf League via Getty Images) Medina has always kept strong faith throughout his time on Tour, praying before he paddles out to each heat and asking for guidance. - WSL / Cait Miers

Taking The Lead In Narrabeen

After surfing in each final so far in the season, Gabriels first event win of 2021 came at the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona against USA's Conner Coffin. Gabriel does his best surfing in heats and his performance at this event was a highlight reel. It was from this point on that once Medina gained possession of the yellow jersey, he wore it the remainder of the season and was a force to be reckoned with.

NARRABEEN, AUS - APRIL 20: Two-time WSL Champion Gabriel Medina of Brazil surfing in Heat 2 of the Quarterfinals of the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona on April 20, 2021 in Narrabeen, Australia. (Photo by Matt Dunbar/World Surf League via Getty Images) Medina does his best surfing in heats and his performance at this event was a highlight reel. - WSL / Matt Dunbar

Rottnest Island Aerials

2021 was a long year for all of the athletes. Once it got rolling, it built up momentum and rolled through three months in Australia with four event stops on the Championship Tour. With strong surfing and a solid support crew on the beach, Medina kept the momentum with another win at the Rip Curl Rottnest Search presented by Corona.

"That was amazing, I had so much fun at this event. It has been my best year so far" said Gabriel in his post heat interview.

"I mean I had some hard heats, Connor and Italo, all these guys, it feels good to be surfing the way I like. I feel comfortable out there and just enjoy every moment. I am blessed to have these waves on tour, travel with my wife, and all these people around me. I want to enjoy this moment."

ROTTNEST ISLAND, AUS - MAY 25: Two-time WSL Champion Gabriel Medina of Brazil surfing in Semifinal 2 of the Rip Curl Rottnest Search presented by Corona on MAY 25, 2021 in Rottnest Island, WA, Australia. (Photo by Matt Dunbar/World Surf League via Getty Images) With the built up momentum from the first three stops, Gabriel was able to solidify yet another win at the Rip Curl Rottnest Search presented by Corona. - WSL / Matt Dunbar

The Brazilian Showdown At Surf Ranch

Consistency is the key to success. In the finals of the Jeep Surf Ranch Pro presented by Adobe, it came down to two Brazilians Gabriel Medina and Filipe Toledo. Whoever could do the most airs on a wave would walk away from the basin with the win.

Felipe came out on top but, Medina added another consistent second place finish to his result list. Little did we know that this particular final was a glimpse into the world title showdown we would later see at Lowers in the coming months.

LEMOORE, CA, UNITED STATES - JUNE 20: Event Winner Filipe Toledo and Gabriel Medina of Brazil after winning the Final of the Surf Ranch Pro presented by Adobe on JUNE 20, 2021 in Lemoore, CA, United States. (Photo by Tony Heff/World Surf League) In the finals at the Jeep Surf Ranch Pro Gabriel and Filipe battled to the very end, showcasing the pinacle of the Brazilian storm. - WSL / Tony Heff

Reaching A Life Long Goal

"I feel so happy. It is not everyday you accomplish your dream" said Gabriel in his post win interview.

"It feels so good to dream. Every dream seems to be impossible until it is done. This is a special day for me. I had this dream in my mind for a long time. All the glory and honor to the guy up there. Always make me never give up and work hard. There is no other way you can go, working hard and having patience. Letting the surf talk. I am not good at talking, I just love surfing. This day is going to be forever in my life. I am going to tell my kid. That I had to surf a lot to win this title."

Wise words from someone who is just 27-years-old and has accomplished so much in his life already.

SAN CLEMENTE, CALIFORNIA, USA - SEPTEMBER 14: Two-time WSL Champion Gabriel Medina of Brazil wins the Title Match of the Rip Curl WSL Finals on September 14, 2021 at Lower Trestles, San Clemente, California. (Photo by Pat Nolan/World Surf League) After winning the Rip Curl WSL Finals against competitor Felipe Toledo, Gabriel rides on the back of the jet ski in celebration, proudly holding the Brazilian flag. - WSL / Pat Nolan

Third Times The Charm: Medina, Medina, Medina

"I just want to say. I am really inspired by all the things that Gabriel said. He is representing surfing so well" said Kelly Slater after watching the Rip Curl WSL Finals. "It is great to see someone put all that work and effort into their life and have success. Really happy for him."

If the G.O.A.T was inspired then that means this year was extra special. It will be exciting to see what Medina does in 2022.

SAN CLEMENTE, CALIFORNIA, USA - SEPTEMBER 14: Two-time WSL Champion Gabriel Medina of Brazil after surfing in the Title Match of the Rip Curl WSL Finals on September 14, 2021 at Lower Trestles, San Clemente, California. (Photo by Pat Nolan/World Surf League) Holind up three fingers in one hand and the World Title trophy in the other, Gabriel celebrate a huge moment in his life and in the history books of surfing. - WSL / Pat Nolan
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