Team O'Neill rider John John Florence (HAW), 19, has won his maiden ASP World Championship Tour event, taking out the Billabong Rio Pro over Joel Parkinson (AUS), 31, in barreling three-to-four foot (1 metre) waves at Barra da Tijuca.
Florence, currently in his rookie year on the ASP WCT, proved unstoppable on the final day of Billabong Rio Pro competition, topping prodigious Australian Julian Wilson (AUS), 23, and Josh Kerr (AUS), 27, on his way to triumph over Parkinson.
“This is the best feeling in the world,” Florence said. “I had that bad heat at Arpoador to start and we had a couple of lay days and I had to just sit and think about it. I can’t even believe this right now. I’m in shock. I was just sticking to my game plan and not thinking about the other guys. I’m so happy right now.”
Florence, who now sits at No. 6 on the ASP WCT, will look to carry the momentum from today’s massive victory to the upcoming ASP WCT events in Fiji and Tahiti.
“This helps my confidence so much,” Florence said. “I have a lot of confidence going into events with barreling waves like Pipe. Obviously I have a lot of confidence in barrels from my experience at Pipe, but coming here, I wasn’t expecting a big result. I was just hoping to make a few heats.”
Michael Heath, Global Marketing Director at O'Neill, said: "Everyone at O'Neill is super-proud of John John after what he accomplished earlier today in Brazil. We're just delighted for him and his family - congratulations John John!"