Martin Passeri had won five straight national surfing championships in Argentina, and 2015 figured to be his sixth straight victory -- he entered the competition as its frontrunner. He wound up losing, but in a way that feels much more like a win.
According to The Inertia, Passeri failed to win the contest after his final ride of the day. On his way out to the water for the competition's final heat, he stopped on the beach to visit with Nicolas Gallegos, a fan sitting in his wheelchair in the sand. The Inertia notes that Gallegos used to be a surfer but was paralyzed from the waist down after an accident when he was 18.
That was 18 years ago. It's unclear how much Passeri knew of the man's story, but he quickly took to an idea: He would bring Gallegos out on the water and let him ride on his back while Passeri took one last wave.
It's unclear whether Passeri was disqualified for bringing Gallegos onto his board, or if he simply failed to mount his surfboard in the allotted time, causing his last heat to be disqualified. Either way, he's probably not too upset about it. Both he and Gallegos seem to have a great time, and for the handicapped man, the experience will be one to cherish.
The story recalls a feature published in ThePostGame last year, which followed Jesse Billauer's journey from top-notch surfer to quadriplegic, and then his evolution into an activist creating assisted surfing experiences for handicapped individuals: