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Idol. 2019 was the year of ‘Piccolo’ Clemente, but he doesn’t stop. At 37, he dreams of becoming a world champion again and being present at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
On Sunday, August 4, it could well be referred to as the day of Peruvian surfing and should be celebrated annually for generations. What was experienced in Punta Rocas that afternoon, with the six medals obtained in our first Pan-American hosts, was an eye opener to a reality that was already known but not sufficiently internalized: surfing is a flag sport and we are world power.
But getting to that moment was not easy, national surfing grows as sports do in the world and, to go to the forefront of that evolution, our country makes use of its referents. One of the most recognized is Benoit ‘Piccolo’ Clemente. The three-time world champion and Pan American medalist not only makes us proud of his titles, but is also one of those who lead this movement.
Conversing with ‘Piccolo’ is not difficult, the surfer is like the Peruvian sea, the passion and intensity that permeates his words when talking about the sport he loves is combined with the calm with which he usually manages, that same one that give you years to enjoy sunsets all along the coast after hard days fighting the waves.
“Peru has a fairly wide coast and there are incredible waves everywhere. There are all kinds to adapt to the places where the championships are going to take place. We are already a long time power, but it is important that private companies continue to add support, ”he says, highlighting the level of our exponents, but also recognizing that there is still a way to go.
And is that being one of the engines of the growth of surfing in Peru is a responsibility that comes with the triumphs and years of experience. Many new figures consider him a mentor and he assumes that seat with pride. “For me it is incredible to be able to be taken as a reference, I always try to be able to demonstrate that and every time I can give tips to the boys who compete next to me,” he says.
The best ‘Piccolo’
2019 was his year. In French waters, ‘Piccolo’ moved like fish in water, as if their roots in that country gave him a family benefit, and ended up winning the ISA World of Longboard for the third time (he had already achieved in 2013 and 2015) . As if that were not enough, he was crowned absolute monarch in Lima 2019, registered brands impossible to reach by his rivals and a third distinction of sports laurels was announced for him.
“Personally it has been one of my best years, for Peruvian surfing too. Now I think about this 2020, four dates of the world tour are coming, the first one in Australia in February and the last one in Taiwan. I will try to get a new world title, my eighth national title and the Latin American title, ”he says.
‘Piccolo’ has a very fixed look in the future. At 37 years old, the native of Cajabamba still sees retirement far away. Unfortunately, the inclusion of surfing in the Olympic Games does not include its modality ( longboard ) for the Tokyo 2020 edition , but does not lose hope of being present in 2024.
“I hope that for the next Games it will be included and I will be looking forward to it. It is a dream for everyone to win an Olympic medal and for me it is too. In the future? I can be a coach or see some sports management, I’m sure I’ll stay linked to this sport, ”he says.
Surfing, family, culture
In the social networks of ‘Piccolo’ a photo attracts attention that could easily encompass the three pillars with which his life is governed. He is seen running a wave with his wife on the same board while they shake the traditional scarves of the northern seafaring. “The most important thing is my family, my wife’s support has been incredible all these years. Peru is my country, I love it very much and it allowed me to practice this beautiful sport. My son is already running a board, he’s still small, but he will do the sport he wants, ”he says.
Fate wanted a world champion to be born in front of our sea. His French father and his German mother chose Huanchaco to settle down and set up a restaurant whose name would later become synonymous with excellence. While others get carried away by the current, ‘Piccolo’ continues to make its way through the waves to mark the path of Peruvian surfing to glory.
Source: La Republica