- WSL / Pat Nolan

Today, three-time WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) announced his withdrawal from the start of the 2022 WSL Championship Tour.

"The past few months have been a difficult time for me personally and it has taken a toll," said Medina. "As such, I've decided to withdraw from the start of the 2022 WSL Championship Tour. I had every intention of competing for the full season, had made all the preparations medically (I took my COVID vaccination during my holidays) and mentally and physically, but I'm not in a place where I believe I can perform against the world's best surfers right now and I need to focus on my well-being. I don't know how long it will take, but I aim to return to the Championship Tour as soon as I am ready. I very much appreciate everyone's ongoing love and support. I'll be back when I am able. Love."

"The health and safety of our athletes is of the utmost importance, and we fully support Gabriel's decision to prioritize his well-being," said Erik Logan, WSL CEO. "We want to put the world's best surfers in front of our fans to start the season, but we certainly respect his decision. We'll obviously miss having our reigning World Champion at the 2022 CT kick-off at the Billabong Pro Pipeline, and we will be here to welcome him back when he's ready."

"Gabriel is our number one surfer and we will do anything to help him return to his best personally and professionally," said Rip Curl Chief Marketing Officer, Neil Ridgway. "For many world champion sportspeople the pressures of winning at the highest level are great and the Olympics and WSL Championship Tour are tough crucibles to thrive in. We have seen the ups and downs with many of our finest World Champion surfers and we support Gabriel 100% in his plan to recover in full and be ready to rumble later in the WSL season. We would also like to say to his many fans that it's ok to reach out for help if you are struggling physically and mentally and seek help from the many organizations across the world, which have really come into focus during the pandemic. The other thing to do is surf more. The ocean is a great healer and we know Gabriel will be out in the lineup as part of his recovery. We wish him well."

Medina will be replaced by Caio Ibelli (BRA) at the 2022 Billabong Pro Pipeline.

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