Brazilian surfer Medina announces mental health break

Brazilian surfing world champion Gabriel Medina announced on Monday he will take a break from competing for mental-health reasons, joining gymnast Simone Biles and tennis player Naomi Osaka on a list of sports stars who have said they are battling psychological stress. 

“The past few months have been a difficult time for me personally and it has taken a toll,” said the three-time world champion adding, “I’ve decided to withdraw from the start of the 2022 World Surf League Championship Tour” which starts in Hawaii on January 29.

“Recognising and admitting that I’m not well has been a very difficult process, and deciding to take some time to take care of myself was perhaps the hardest decision I’ve made in my entire life,” 28-year-old Medina wrote in a post in Portuguese and English on Instagram. 

He is also recovering from a hip injury.  

Last year, gymnastics superstar Biles withdrew from several disciplines at the Olympics while quadruple Grand Slam winner Osaka pulled out the French Open and later ended her season. Both said they were suffering from mental health issues. 

In 2021, Medina won his third world surfing championship but failed to make the podium at the Tokyo Olympics despite arriving as the favourite.  

“At the end of the season, I was completely exhausted,” he said, describing the year as “a rollercoaster of emotions”. 

“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,” he wrote

The WSL issued a statement endorsing the Brazilian’s decision. 

“The health and safety of our athletes is of paramount importance, and we support Gabriel’s decision to prioritise their well-being,” executive director Erik Logan said in the statement.