At just nineteen years old, Izzi Gomez’s athletic resume is stacked. After a recent win at the Barbados stop of the APP World Tour, she secured her fifth world title for standup surfing. She’s no stranger to the podium at the ISA World Surfing Games either and she brought home a gold medal at the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru, alongside her brother, Giorgio. In addition to her world titles, Gomez was featured in the 2015 film The SUP Movie and was voted top female paddler of the year at the 2014, 2015, 2016 SUP Awards.
While it is widely known that Gomez is a force to reckon with when a paddle is in her hand, there is so much more to the Florida native than just standup paddling. Here are six things you need to know about the young world champ.
She can fly.
The first time Gomez witnessed foil surfing she was not impressed — she thought it looked kooky and weird. By 2017, a number of her friends were foiling and she was intrigued because it was a way to surf when the swell was down. Friends and fellow watermen Chuck Patterson and Skylar Lickle took her under their wing and helped her learn to fly.
“My dad and I took her out on the ski and she had a really fun and painful time learning,” Lickle jokes. “After a few days of whiplash she was super stoked and wanted to get a foil. Now Izzi rips on the foil!”
These days, Gomez foils regularly and says it’s one of the most fun things she’s ever done. Although she’s strictly been foiling for fun and is still learning everyday, she’s toying with the idea of doing Molokai to Oahu next year.
“It’s so cool and different from surfing,” says Gomez. “It’s a new challenge for me and I think that’s why I like it so much.”
She rips on a shortboard.
Gomez’s love affair with the ocean began on a surfboard when she was just two years old. When she was 13, she began competing on a standup paddleboard and quickly began taking home world titles. But recently, she’s been returning to her roots.
She’s been working closely with Jason Kenworthy, former coach and team manager for the Nike 6.0 surf team, to improve her skills. Under Kenworthy’s guidance, Gomez has seen improvements in both her shortboarding and standup surfing, and decided to start competing in QS events with the goal of someday qualifying for the CT. With SUP surfing, Gomez is a wealth of experience but competing on a shortboard is something new and with each competition, she gains more experience and confidence that translates to her SUP surfing as well.
“I’ve had a lot of people whose opinion I respect tell me I have what it takes,” says Gomez. “I just have to fine tune some things. But qualifying for the CT is definitely the ultimate goal.”
She tames giants.
As a kid from Florida, Gomez never thought big wave surfing would be in her repertoire. But as her travels led her around the world, she became comfortable in bigger surf and tackled waves at Pascuales, Waimea, Cloudbreak, and Jaws. This winter, she made the move to Maui and is fully committed to giving big-wave surfing a go.
She recently participated in a high performance camp with Red Bull where she dialed in on communication, safety, and decision-making skills alongside fellow big wave chargers. She hits the gym regularly and is hoping to compete in Red Bull’s Queen of the Bay if the swells line up. Additionally, she is working closely with “Queen of Jaws” Paige Alms and big-wave legend Ian Walsh to set herself up for success in waves of consequence.
“I wanted a new challenge and I’m just dipping my toes in and seeing how I like it,” says Gomez. “By the end of winter I could decide this isn’t for me but I want to give it a shot and see how it goes.”
She’s half Colombian.
Gomez’s dad was born and raised in the Latin American country and thanks to his roots, she and her brother have dual citizenship. When an opportunity to compete for the country arose, the Gomezes were released from team USA to compete for team Colombia. In 2019, the Gomez siblings represented Colombia at the Pan American Games in Peru and both took home gold. Both siblings are on Colombia’s ISA team and are hoping to represent the country in the Olympics someday — if not the 2020 Games then one down the line.
“I’m the whitest, blondest gringo ever on the Columbian team,” says Gomez. “But it’s been really cool to that that side of my culture.” Surfing has been growing in popularity in recent years and Gomez is proud to be apart of propelling the sport’s growth.
She’s a model.
When’s she’s not surfing, training, or traveling, Gomez occasionally dabbles in modeling. She’s signed with Natural Models, an agency that features curve models and promotes healthy body image. The agency’s beliefs align with Gomez’s goal of promoting a strong, healthy body and she was brought on as a fitness model and athlete.
“In surfing, it’s so easy for women to be critiqued because we’re in bikinis all the time,” says Gomez. “Instagram is so saturated with models that are photo shopped— I just want to give people a normal, healthy image to see.”
While Gomez is confident in her surfing abilities, she occasionally struggles with her body image like so many other young women. Modeling is a way for her to have fun and gain confidence and the photos remind her that she has nothing to worry about. Gomez is excited to see more female athletes enter the world of modeling and although she only does photo shoots occasionally, she’s proud to be one of them.
“Izzi is the embodiment of the qualities young women should model themselves after—she is hardworking and constantly strives to better herself and her abilities.,” says Katie H. Wilcox, co-founder of Natural Models. ” Physically, Izzi shows young women what a healthy, fit and strong body looks like!”
She’s a closet musician.
It’s public knowledge that Gomez has major talent in the water but she’s no slack on the guitar either. While she used to be more public with her music, she stills plays her guitar regularly, just in the comfort of her home. Music is a huge part of her life and she’s a fan of all genres, with different playlists for workouts, contests, and different moods.
“Besides surfing, music is the way I express myself,” says Gomez. “It’s a stress reliever and it takes my mind off of everything that’s going on.”
Although Gomez doesn’t write her own songs, she journals frequently and admits that the documentation of her life’s experiences could make for good song material. If she wasn’t surfing, Gomez says she’d probably be a musician. Or a dancer. Or start a clothing line. Or be a sports psychologist. Really, anything is possible.
The article was originally published on Standup Paddling
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