LIMA, PERU – Former Anna Maria Island residents and siblings Giorgio Gomez and Isabella Gomez both won gold medals Monday at the 2019 Pan American Games.
The grandchildren of Jim and Ronee Brady, who own the West Coast Surf Shop in Holmes Beach, earned gold in SUP Surfing (stand up paddleboarding).
Giorgio Gomez faced off Peru’s Tamil Martino (silver), and the USA’s Daniel Hughes (bronze), while Izzi Gomez beat out Peru’s Vania Torres (silver) and Brazil’s Nicole Pacelli (bronze).
They competed for Colombia, as they have dual citizenship in the U.S. and Colombia, their father’s home country.
“We kind of thought they had a chance and they did it,” said Jim Brady of his grandchildren, who grew up surfing in Anna Maria Island waters.
It’s the second time the brother-sister duo has won gold in two years, making Colombian history, he said – last year it was at the 2018 Pan American Claro Games, also in Peru.
There were some challenges at the games, said their mother, Brandi Brady, from their home in California.
“Izzi was using Giorgio’s board in her heat, and she broke his board, so then he didn’t have a board,” she said. He was forced to use his sister’s smaller board – a disadvantage – but still came out in first place.
The next stop for the brother-sister duo is to leave for Japan later this month, where they will try to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics in surfing, recently added as an Olympic sport. SUP surfing is not yet an Olympic sport.
Duke Kahanamoku, an Olympic gold medalist in swimming and a native Hawaiian known as the father of modern surfing, first suggested including surfing as an Olympic sport in 1912, according to the International Surfing Association (ISA), the world governing authority for surfing, SUP surfing and other wave riding activities, recognized by the International Olympic Committee.
More than 100 years later, in 2016, the committee voted to include surfing as one of five new sports in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games.