World Para Surfing Championship: Meet the Winners




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The sports world wasn’t entirely dormant over the weekend, as the World Para Surfing Championship proceeded to its conclusion on Saturday. The United States earned silver in the team competition (Spain took the gold), and several amputees (including Americans Colin Cook and Liv Stone) won individual gold medals—fittingly so, since the Association of Amputee Surfers (AmpSurf) co-sponsored the event with the International Surfing Association (ISA).

The competition started last Wednesday, before the NBA and (subsequently) almost every other sporting enterprise went on hiatus to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Because the Para Surf finals were already underway, postponing them wasn’t really an option. More than 130 adaptive athletes from 21 countries had journeyed to La Jolla, California, for the event, many of them traveling on their own dime—these are not high-paid professionals we’re talking about. Moreover, a surf competition is less susceptible to viral propagation than most sporting events. It’s staged on an open beach instead of in an enclosed stadium or arena, and the action unfolds across a sprawling shoreline that lets everybody spread out.

You can get the complete list of medal winners at the International Surfing Association’s website. We highlighted a few of the bigger amputee stories below, with photos from the ISA media gallery. Captions below each photo tell the story.

The men’s kneeling division featured a battle of titans pitting Brazil’s Alcino Neto (left) against Australia’s Mark “Mono” Stewart (right). These two 50something geezers can still bring it, and you’d be hard-pressed to find two individuals who’ve done more to promote adaptive surfing worldwide. Neto ended up with the gold this time; Stewart settled for silver. Photos: Sean Evans (L), Pablo Jimenez (R).
Our vote for rookie of the year goes to Jose Martinez, the first triple amputee (hip disarticulation) ever to compete in a Para Surf finals. He came away with a bronze medal in his division. Photo: Sean Evans.
Just 16 years old, Liv Stone competed in her second worlds and won her first gold medal. She’ll be a serious contender when parasurfing debuts (we hope) as a Paralympic sport in Paris in 2024. Photo: Sean Evans.
French parasurfer Eric Dargent added to his stockpile of silver medals, finishing second to Hawaiian Colin Cook in the men’s Stand 3 division. He’s competed in every Para Surf Championship since the inaugural in 2015. Photo: Pablo Jimenez.