Roma signs Brazil's fourth-best goofyfooter for Teahupoo Olympic showdown!
Nationality swapping ain’t new when it comes to that dirty two-week sports carnival called the Olympic Games.
Rare is the country that don’t fast-track an athletically gifted immigrant or wannabe immigrant if it gets a little extra glitter in the country’s medal cabinet.
Kenyan distance runners, Jamaican springers, Russian wrestlers, Cuban boxers can choose whatever passport they want, pretty much.
The Cuban-born British triple jumper Yamilé Aldama, for one, has competed for Cuba, Britain and the Sudan.
Sao Paulo’s Jesse Mendes, who doesn’t have a chance in hell of getting to Teahupoo in 2024 with a triumvirate of Brazilians world champions, Medina, Toledo and Ferreira, vying for the country’s two spots, has switched his allegiance to Italy.
“My great-grandfather on my father’s side was Calabrian, my mother is also of European origins,” says Mendes, a strikingly unique beauty who is twenty-nine. “It took a while to get a passport but now I’m really happy: I’m a very good friend of Leo Fioravanti and my dream is to go to the 2024 Paris Olympics.”
To add to the Italians’ surf muscle, another Brazilian, the 2015 world champ Adrian de Souza is the Italian national surf coach.
“[Adriano] can make this new generation of Italian surfers strong and our nation will have a future in competitive surfing,” says Fioravanti.
Readers will be familiar with Jesse Mendes’ wife, the Kauai-raised Tatiana Weston-Webb who surfed as American on tour but switched to Brazil prior to the Tokyo Games, where she finished ninth.
“Brazil has always been an important part of who I am and, recently, I was approached by the Brazilian Olympic Committee with an opportunity to represent the country in a major way,” she said.