Abu Dhabi: Italy’s Massimiliano Piffaretti and Sanne Meijer from the Netherlands both head into the 2019 IWWF World Wakeboard Championships starting in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday with their sights set on completing a major double title success.
The winners of the men’s and women’s gold medals at the first ever ANOC Worlds Beach Games last month are among 150 riders from 31 countries who will be in action at the Eastern Mangroves Promenade venue over the next five days.
Piffaretti and Meijer are prime examples of the time, dedication and skill required to reach the top in a sport which is transformed from a hobby into a career taking place across a global stage for those good and brave enough.
Sharing the target in the UAE capital this week to add IWWF World Championship glory to their recent gold medal success, they can inspire young local enthusiasts to pursue their own dreams with the help of the new wakeboard academy at Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC).
“Being able to watch and connect with the world’s best riders will be a fantastic opportunity for our Academy students to learn how to improve their technique and build their knowledge of wakeboarding,” said Salem Al Remeithi, General Manager of ADIMSC.
Piffaretti was seven years old when his wakeboarding cousins took him on a boat and introduced him to a sport which immediately captivated him.
He won the Italian and IWWF European titles in 2012, and three years later, at the age of 20, he became the first rider from his country to win the IWWF World Championships gold in Mexico.
Meijer, who took up wakeboarding at the age of 10, said: “From the very first moment when I was in touch with the sport, I knew I was addicted.”
She won her first IWWF European title in 2011 in the girls division, and a year later captured her first IWWF world title. In 2014, at the age of 17 and the youngest rider in the Pro-women category, she secured gold at the IWWF World Championships in Norway.
The IWWF World Wakeboard Championships get under way with a series of qualifiers in the boys, veteran men, masters men, junior men and veterans women categories.
The day will be rounded off when the 31 national teams, including the first from the UAE captained by 23-year-old wakeboard athlete Khaled Subaa, march together at the opening ceremony adjacent to the Anantara Eastern Mangroves Abu Dhabi Hotel.