Just a week before the Billabong Pipe Masters kicks off, The New York Times is taking an in-depth look at Gabriel Medina's World Title run and what a crown could mean for sports fans in Brazil. Currently ranked No. 1 in the world, Medina is up against World No 2. Mick Fanning and World No. 3 Kelly Slater (USA) for the Championship.
â€œBrazil misses having a big sports star,â€ Adrian Kojin, editor of The Surfer's Journal Brasil, told the Times. â€œAnd right after our embarrassing participation in the World Cup, Medina has a very big chance of becoming our next Ayrton Senna or Guga Kuerten: idols capable of putting the whole country in a state of commotion by waving the Brazilian flag on the highest place at the podium.â€
While Medina is widely considered to have a lock on the Title, the Times also noted his stumble in Portugal and the immense pressure he is likely shouldering. A look at the scenarios for how the Title could play out shows that the next Champion ultimately hinges on the 20-year-old's performance in the final event of the season.
How does Medina feel about his chances? â€œIt doesn't depend on them; it's all about me."