“I start immediately with a very difficult first heat. I’m up against two surfing legends, John John Florence and Gabriel Medina. Just to understand, two make five world titles. How to beat them? Eh, there is no rule. There is you with the Ocean. Whoever catches the best wave usually wins”.
Leonardo Fioravanti, the Italian phenomenon, returns to fight in the Olympus of surfing. He is one of the 36 athletes who compete in the world pro circuit, the World Surf League Championship Tour, a long season that is worth the title of best in the world and, this year, also the qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympics. , look at the French who can always count on overseas territories, will take place with boards in Tahiti, Polynesia.
In this interview he says he is ready, that he feels 100%. But above all, to continue the dream. For those who don’t know him, it’s a dream of him that begins soon. He was born in 1997 in Cerveteri (Rome) and began surfing in the footsteps of his brother, a surfer for the national team, with trips to the sea on the Lazio coast. Someone says that he starts at 4, others at 6. he The fact is that he is talented and immediately makes his way. At 11 years old, some say at 8, he starts his surfing globetrotting business, supported by his mother, who is dedicated to her son’s dream. And he begins the climb to Olympus.
He wins a lot and in 2017 he qualifies in the World Tour of the pros in 2017. And then, he stays there. He was saved in 2019, when he had to leave due to injury. And in 2022, when a novelty of the regulation, which inserts the half-way cut for those who are below the temporary 24th place in the standings. He restarts the climb from the ChallengerSeries and returns to the summit.
Today, who is 25 years old and has a sea of titles, who is a super paid testimonial of surf and fashion brands, who has a personal agent, who speaks five languages, who is engaged to a Hawaiian model and who never knows where be it, who knows in which spot, he tells you that he still has a lot to grow. And which is concentrated on the first stage of the world championship, the Billabong Pro Pipline, which could – the Ocean commands – start on January 29 (with a window until February 10, 2023) in the Banzai Pipeline spot, on the north coast of the island of Oahu, Hawaii.
Fioravanti, the Billabong Pro Pipeline is the debut. And how do you get there physically and mentally?
“Pipeline is a very special wave, especially this year which is the first of the season. You have to be ready, both physically and mentally. Physically I’m 100%. I’ve been training a lot lately. And I’m also mentally ready. I am calm, calm. By now, I’ve been competing on the world circuit for quite a few years, I’ve gained some experience and that counts. Of course you have to use it the right way. Therefore, the intention is to start the year at Pipeline with a great result and above all by making the right choices and fully charged up for the season”.
His first heat (manche) is with Florence and Medina. They are two tough bones. She knows them, they are no surprise to her. And then, she asks: how do they fight?
“Eh, how they fight (laughs). There is no rule. There is you with the Ocean. Whoever catches the best wave usually wins. Nothing is impossible in this sport, and here at Pipeline I feel at ease, because I’ve already achieved good results and it’s a wave that I surf very well. What to say? I can’t wait to get out on the water and enjoy the opportunity to beat these two champions.”
Thirty-six surfers in Olympus. What does it mean to compete on the WSL Championship Tour?
“It means being in the top 36 in the world, which is not easy. It also means another special year in which I want to perform, win and achieve great results. But everything in his time. As I said, you have to make the right choices at the right time. Now let’s think about Pipeline”.
To enter the Championship Tour you also need to have luck on your side. You suffered serious injuries in 2015 and 2019. Did they score you?
“Yes, there have been injuries. I had to stop, but now they are outdated. Today I’m 100% physically, I don’t have any discomfort in my back (he broke two vertebrae in 2015, forced to stay out of competition for 7 months, ed) or in my shoulder (dislocated mid-season 2019). This is also because I am a person who pays close attention to my body: I train a lot, I follow a controlled and healthy diet”.
Fitness sessions, but his gym is also blue. What is the ocean for you?
“That’s all. It’s home. She gave me everything, but she also made me suffer a lot. But that’s part of the game, isn’t it? I will always be grateful to the Ocean for what it has given me, for what it is giving me and for what – I am sure – it will still give me”.
The Championship Tour is also important because the top 10 men in the standings (and eight women) qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics. It is surfing’s second time at the Games, after Tokyo (Fioravanti was there too, but the medal was not arrived).
“For me the Games are the pinnacle of sport, the highest podium. I’ll give my all for that too. I want to qualify, I want to win and be able to win a medal. For myself, for Italy and for our sport. I think positive and I am confident of qualifying and, if I manage to be in Tahiti, also of winning a medal. It’s an achievable dream.”
An extra-Tour question. Are you attracted by big waves? Do you ever get the urge to take your boards and go to Nazaré in Portugal for example to try to surf the big waves?
“Of course it comes to me. I’ve always liked big waves. The problem is that they are also very risky and you have to be careful if you are competing in the pro world championship. If you go surfing the big waves and get hurt again, you risk skipping the stages of the World Championship and putting the season on hold. I therefore have to find a balance between my competitive activity and the pleasure of surfing those waves. But one day I would sincerely like to go to Nazaré. And elsewhere too. Big waves are here in Hawaii too. I just saw the images of The Eddie and I would really like to be part of this prestigious contest”.
It remains to be asked whether, looking back, he is satisfied with his life and career.
“Of course I am. Very satisfied. I’m 25 years old, it’s my sixth time competing on the world circuit. I am proud of what I have achieved”
But isn’t that enough?
“These are my best years from a sporting point of view, I know I can give much more and I want to enjoy the opportunity to do so”.