Gabriel Medina is by far the most popular surfer on the Championship Tour today. His 5.9 million followers on Instagram are more than Kelly Slater and John John Florence combined. At home in Brazil, the handsome dark-haired goofyfooter is considered a national hero thanks to the World Title he finally delivered to the proud surfing nation in 2014. His rowdy homecoming to São Paulo was national news, and to this day Medina has a tough time going anywhere in Brazil without being recognized. Of course, if you were anywhere near the Brazilian surf scene a decade ago you saw Medina coming. His explosive repertoire of above the lip maneuvers earned him all kinds of amateur titles in his early teens, including Rip Curl’s Grom Search, Quiksilver’s King of the Groms and several state titles. In 2009, a 15-year-old Medina became the youngest surfer ever to win a major Qualifying Series event. By mid 2011, 17-year-old Medina qualified for the Championship Tour (along with John John Florence) and immediately burned the place down with his high-flying acrobatic approach. He won the first event he entered as a CT member, and repeated the feat two events later. His huge impact on the international stage poured fuel on the fledgling Brazilian Storm, a fresh injection of like-minded talents from Brazil that now occupy one-third of the Championship Tour roster. Over the past four years Medina has earned more Championship Tour victories than any other competitor, and he dominates his closest rivals in head-to-head battles, which is why he remains a perennial World Title contender.
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