As his countrymen gear up to battle for the world title what can we say for Filipe Toledo?
In the wake of this year’s showdown at the Billabong Pipe Masters Pro, Filipe Toledo is probably, like the rest of us, still coming to terms with what just transpired.
Coming into the event with only one CT win and ranked behind fellow countrymen Gabriel Medina (no.2) and Italo Ferreira (no.1), Filipe Toledo (no.4) had a lot at stake as the Brazilian storm eyed total dominance. Vying for his first ever world title and a chance to represent Brazil in one of only two spots at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, the fiery 24-year-old had to aim so high, amidst the realms of perfection, to avoid the dreaded booby prize.
Unfortunately for Toledo, things didn’t go his way bowing out in Round 32 against New Zealander Ricardo Cristie. Post heat, a choked-up Toledo made no excuse.
“Definitely [I made] a lot of mistakes with the priority during the heat. I paddled for waves that I should have kept the priority and wait for a better wave. I’m just tired,” Toledo sighed behind dark sunglasses as he spoke to the WSL crew.
No stranger to adversity, Toledo was quick to highlight that juggling all aspects of his life amidst the glitz and glam of the inner realm of the surfing world’s elite, had come at a cost.
“It’s tough you know, having the career, having sponsors, having a family and being away. You try not to prove to anybody that you can do it, but at the back of your mind you’re actually trying to [prove it] you know. I’m just trying not to put pressure on myself and whatever comes next, comes yeah,” the Brazilian mumbled.
Toledo’s tune was strikingly similar to what was revealed earlier in the year, although at Stop 3 of the WSL Tour, the Brazilian was candidly optimistic of being able to keep things in balance.
“Yeah it's hard. It's really hard. I've got two kids and I got a wife now living in my own house, my own responsibilities. At the same time, it's really cool to have them you know with me, but it's alot of work. They're kids, I'm a dad, I'm a super dad (laughs), I can call myself that and I want to do everything for them and see them happy and comfortable and sometimes it takes alot from me as well. So this year, we just decided to not bring the kids [on tour]. You know I was travelling by myself, I mean with my Dad and my filmer, but after a long few months I brought my wife for a couple of days [at some of the events]. It's good to have her around and get a little bit of her energy too and refuel.”
So did the pressure of it all get too much?
On top of his family commitments, let us not forget the prospect of representing Brazil at surfing’s debut in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. This accolade and honour would have undoubtedly been huge and it’s something Toledo had his eyes firmly set on. With only 2 spots up for grabs, Toledo was seeking to lead the way for his country alongside the likes of fellow countryman and friend, Gabe Medina.
Earlier this year, Toledo highlighted that “it's a huge opportunity [the Olympics], not just for me as an athlete, but for sure, for surfing as well. And for my country I want to be there, representing them in the best way, in the best performance and give it my all. Just do my best trying to get that medal. I feel it's going to be really amazing.”
“For sure, it's two things that I really want and if world title doesn't come, I'll definitely want the Olympic spot.”
Unfortunately for Toledo, that won’t be happening. And neither will a world title.
The only thing for sure, is that this season will sting. It will sting alot. It will sting over Christmas and it will sting again when the surfing world starts bursting with excitement for its 2020 Olympic debut. And when the Olympics finally get underway, it’s going to sting even more. Yes, despite finishing top 5 in the world, Toledo is going to have to watch his sport being showcased on the world stage from his armchair at home. Ouch!
Now the only thing that can heal this kind of wound, is perhaps a world title next year or another baby added to the Toledo clan. Anything to distract himself from the dark shadows of the competitive zone.
The Brazilian’s incineration in the world title race and Olympic qualification process has shocked even the world’s best. After his epic 10-point ride earlier this week at Pipe, the 11-time world champion Kelly Slater shared his disbelief.
“Who would expect Filipe wouldn’t be in the Olympics next year. I thought that was a sure thing. But he’s got a couple of countrymen that are just out of hand.”
Toledo is not alone in his likely frustration of coming from a country with such deep talent. In beach volleyball, it’s all too common to see three out of the top five ranked teams in the world coming from Brazil. Such a predicament has seen numerous athletes shift quarters to other neighbouring countries. So, is this what we will come to see in the surfing world too?
In the end, this season has been a colourful array of highs and lows for Toledo. Let’s hope the bubbling Brazilian can bounce back and make his mark in 2020.
Follow @jayita.ab for more pro surfing insights.