July 25, 2021

The Heartbreaking story of Carlos Muñoz at the first Olympic Surf Competition.


Imagine you are sitting at the beach in Costa Rica with your buddies, and all of a sudden, you get invited to the Olympics—and then miss your heat.

What sounds like a typical surfer story of a dude not planning accurately almost broke my heart this morning.

Earlier this year, Carlos Muñoz didn’t qualify for the first Olympic surf competition, which was already kind of a disaster for the Costa Rican surfing association. He is a national hero, an inspiration to all surfers in Central America, and, unfortunately, no stranger to not making the cut.

There is not much doubt that he is one of the world’s best free surfers, but he never really got the fame that he deserves (in my opinion) because he hasn’t won any big competitions (yet).

And now this! After Frederico Morais (Portugal) tested positive for COVID-19, Muñoz was invited to fill the spot—unfortunately, he was on the other side of the planet.

COVID-19 restrictions made it even harder for him to spontaneously fly to Japan, but he tried nevertheless.

In a national effort, Costa Rican firefighters helped him to get to the airport, authorities scheduled his papers, and the media was cheering their national hero on his way to Japan.

His only hope to make it in time was that the weather and surf conditions would delay his first heat at the competition. While he was already on his connecting flight to Los Angeles, he found out that that wasn’t happening.

So, his very last hope was the second round of the competition that gives all losers from the first round another chance (because not showing up got him into the last place of his first heat).

When he arrived in Japan, he found out that the weather conditions didn’t lead to any delay—he was out of the competition before he even got into the water.

Poor Carlos. I am so sorry for him. It breaks my heart that he didn’t make it.

And I would like to add: this was not his fault. Why on earth did the Olympic committee not invite the runner-up qualifier in the first place? Frederico Morais wasn’t (and probably won’t be) the only athlete who tested positive before his competition. It would have been more than reasonable to invite athletes who might get the chance to fill vacant spots—why did Muñoz have to go through this drama?

Imagine how this young man feels after traveling to Japan to represent his country at the Olympics and not making it in time.

I hope that no other athlete will have to go through this. I hope that the Olympic committee learned its lesson and immediately invites all runner-up qualifiers to travel to Japan.

We are talking about the biggest dream of most athletes—and breaking Muñoz’s heart could have easily been prevented.

I am so sorry for all my Costa Rican friends who already celebrated the late invitation of their national hero—but there will be another Olympic competition in three years.

Don’t give up, Carlos.

Pura Vida.


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