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Written by Lottie Lewis
We are proud to have Camilo Abdula on our team of riders. The 42 year old lives in Sines, Portugal and competes in adaptive surfing and parasurfing championships. Camilo explained, “I was born with a deformation on my left arm and for that reason I am a parasurfing athlete. Surfing for me is a way of life, an escape from everyday stress.”
Rebel writer Lottie caught up with Camilo about his competitive career, his love of the ocean and the future of adaptive surfing…
When did you first start surfing?
I started surfing when I was about 13 years old due to the influence of my brother and friends. As Sines has many beaches for the practice of activities related to the sea, the street games were replaced by the ocean and this became our favourite meeting place. At the time, my brother, who already practised bodyboarding, offered me one of his boards and, despite my disability, this did not prevent me from accompanying him on his adventures. Whilst it was sometimes difficult, we always returned home with good stories from our days out surfing. After the age of 18 I changed my bodyboard for a surfboard, because I felt that I couldn't evolve much more in bodyboarding. At the same time surfing started to grow and change in our area, and that was the incentive for another challenge. I always liked challenges...
What has been your biggest achievement in the competition circuit?
I only started competing officially in 2018 after I got in touch with the Portuguese Surfing Federation who, a year earlier, had participated in the adapted surfing world championship. I talked to my family and decided to move forwards with the sport. I found it so interesting, as I was not really aware of other athletes with disabilities in the Portuguese surfing world. My biggest achievement has been obtaining 4th place in the 2022 Parasurfing World Championships, that took place in Pismo Beach, California, USA.
What is the atmosphere like at adaptive surfing competitions?
Above all there’s a great friendship and camaraderie between all athletes, but also moments of learning, competition and respect for surfing.
What does surfing and the ocean mean to you?
Surfing is my DNA. When I am in the water I feel alive. The sea challenges me to be stronger, to be competitive and to overcome my fears. The sea is where most of my friends are from. I also gained the respect of not only friends, but my competitors, from spending dedicated time in the ocean.
Do you have any words of advice for people wanting to get into competing in adaptive surfing?
My advice is simple: Go for it! Don't be afraid. The secret is in training and showing that we are capable of overcoming our challenges. Nothing is impossible.
What do you see for the future of competitive adaptive surfing?
The future seems bright to me, because there are more and more adaptive surf athletes in the various categories and, most importantly, they are younger and younger. I also believe that the moment that adaptive surfing becomes a Paralympic sport, it will become more competitive and we will witness a great evolution of the sport.