Copacabana beach is the training ground where, against the odds, one young life was to change forever.
For Rio de Janeiro isn’t just about sun and sand.
As highlighted during last year’s Olympic Games, the Brazilian city is also home to gritty favelas – none more notorious that Pavao-Pavaozinho – known for its gangs and drugs trade.
It is also where bodyboarding aces Matheus Bastos and Socrates Santana grew up – the latter rising above his humble origins to become a two time Junior Pro World Champion.
“If you don’t have a family that guides you, makes you go to school and do sport, then I have no doubt you’re going to look for an easier path in life, which will probably turn out to be the wrong path,” Socrates said.
“If you chose the wrong path, there are two options. You either end up in prison, or dead.”
Great day filming with Junior Bodyboarding World Champion Socrates Santana in his hillside favela Pavão-Pavãozinho #bodyboarding pic.twitter.com/TfdQrlFKs2— George Powell (@PowellGeorge) 8 septembre 2017
Socrates won his world titles in 2015 and 2016, to the delight of his family.
“I was very proud of him, the first and the second time he won this prize,” said his mother IIgoor Santana.
Now 18, Socrates competes with the men, although flight cancellations due to Hurricane Irma have interfered with his recent schedule.
An inspiration to thousands of young Brazilians, his life has been transformed – but he will never forget where it all started.