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Gabriel Medina, Champion Surfer, Withdraws From Season to Focus on Mental Health

  • January 26, 2022

Gabriel Medina, the No. 1-ranked world champion surfer, said on Monday that he would not compete in the 2022 World Surf League season and would instead focus on his mental health.

“The past few months have been a difficult time for me personally and it has taken a toll,” said Mr. Medina, 28, from São Paulo, Brazil. He added, “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.”

The announcement from Mr. Medina, a veteran of the sport who has won three world titles, including one last year, follows that of other prominent athletes who have similarly prioritized their mental health over competition in recent years, forcing the sports community to confront the pressures of competitiveness.

During the Summer Games in Tokyo last summer, Simone Biles, the four-time Olympic gold medalist, withdrew from part of the competition, citing mental health issues. Naomi Osaka, the tennis champion who is the highest-paid female athlete in the world, withdrew from the French Open last year, saying that she had faced “long bouts of depression” since she won the United States Open in 2018. And the basketball players A’ja Wilson, DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love have spoken publicly about their depression.

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