Martin Passeri has won a lot of contests. The five-time Argentinian surf champion is no stranger to the podium. So when he stopped short on the sand on his way out to his heat, everyone was surprised.
He stopped next to Nicolas Gallegos, who sat in his wheelchair on the sand. At 18, he was paralyzed from the waist down, cutting his dream of learning to surf short. But when Passeri stopped on the sand twenty years after the accident, his dream would come true.
Martin Passeri touched Gallegos’s shoulder and offered to take him out to catch is first wave… in the middle of a heat. Passeri was later disqualified, but winning isn’t always about the trophy. “I believe that was the best wave,” he said, “and the biggest triumph of my life.”