Skateboarding made its entrance in the Olympic Games for the first time in Tokyo, and Portugal was represented by an athlete who keeps growing and adding great results to his career history. He is Gustavo Ribeiro, 20 years old, and after his recent 8th place in Tokyo, where he got an Olympic diploma despite having competed injured, he shone again at the end of August, in the USA, winning the first stage of the World Street Skateboarding League.
The SLS victory
Gustavo Ribeiro won the first stage of the SLS (Street League Skateboarding), the World Street Skateboarding League, by taking first place in a dispute with American Nyah Huston.
In Salt Lake City, in the United States, the athlete went face to face with Brazilian Kelvin Hoefler and Americans Alex Midler and Huston. In his last manoeuvre, Gustavo got the best score of the competition, a 9.4, at a time when victory seemed to be in Huston's hands. The American had the last chance but missed the manoeuvre, with Gustavo celebrating after the bad luck in Tokyo. In a race in which he got three scores above 9, the 20-year-old Portuguese skater finished with 27.6 points.
The next stage of this SLS is scheduled for October 29-30 in Miami.
A career on the board
Despite his tender age, Gustavo's career is already significant. The athlete started at the age of 5, after his uncle gave him his first skateboard, never to stop. He was, for example, the first Portuguese to win the mythical Tampa AM, the oldest amateur skaters' championship. He was also the first Portuguese to reach the SLS, which was a childhood dream.
But if skateboarding was a hobby until the age of 17, although taken quite seriously, in the last three years everything changed in Gustavo Ribeiro's life and he turned professional. Three years ago, he decided that skateboarding was the most important thing in his life, having agreed with his parents that if he went to the world championship and won, they would permit him to leave school... and that is exactly what happened. The athlete confesses that he always wanted to be a professional skateboarder and he realized that in order to get there, he would have to focus entirely on that goal.
From fun to profession
His fun hobby became his profession, and Gustavo lives entirely from the sport and he is already financially independent from his family.
Despite always wishing to reach the level where he is today, Gustavo didn't imagine that it could happen so fast, at the age of 20. "I always knew it was possible. I worked for it, of course. But I didn't know it was going to happen so soon", he confessed in an interview.
Gustavo Ribeiro certainly feels the weight of responsibility, having all eyes on him from a country where the sport is only beginning to be seen as a "serious" competitive sport and not as a hobby. "It's challenging: you feel you can't do everything you want, and you always have to set an example for others. Many people follow your work and one day want to be like you or be better than you, so you always have it in your head that you must set an example, do everything correctly, training for hours and hours to get to that level," he explained.
Fun fact: Gustavo has a twin brother, also a competitive skater. He assumes: "we are a person divided in two. So if I don't win, I win anyway because my brother wins. And the same happens when it's the other way around".