FROM ZERO TO HERO
Mitu Monteiro – The man who pushed the boundaries and succeeded in reaching the highest step of the World Podium
Internationally known as the Pioneer of Strapless, he also must be given credit for paving the way for all the following Cape Verdean young riders who currently lead the championship rankings.
Mitu reached the top of the world proudly carrying the name of Cape Verde, almost unknown until then. Despite the challenges to travel as a Cape Verdean, he managed to cross the border to take part in international competitions.
The breakthrough came in 2008 when he returned to Sal island as Kitesurfing World Champion. He cannot forget his exciting arrival at the airport: cheering crowds welcomed and thanked him.
Prepare the handkerchief and get ready to cry. Here is the moving YouTube video of his arrival.
That was the moment that he realized the importance and the responsibility of his new success. He was not alone anymore as the Cape Verdean people were with him.
The seemingly perfect life has not always been easy; Mitu was, many times, close to stopping and giving up on his dream.
He could not know what destiny had in store for him when, 40 years ago, he was born in Sal, a small and hidden African island where everybody is in love with the ocean.
He grew up with his single mother who, with strength and dedication, overcame the struggles of life.
Only years after Mitu understood the importance of the principles passed to him from his mum. He can now recognize how much they have been essential to his success.
People with great passion can make the impossible happen
Having always lived for his passion, Mitu wanted to make a job out of his love for water sports. Starting young, he worked for the first surf centre of the island and he patiently saved money for more than 6 months to buy second-hand windsurf equipment.
Famous worldwide for the impressive wind and waves perfect conditions that Nature gives, the Island of Sal has become a popular destination since the dawn of windsurfing.
Ponta Preta is the best playground that a surfer could have, but the ocean is unpredictable: big waves and strong wind offer unique breathtaking emotion, but by the same token each tumble could be fatal as the gear is constantly in danger of being destroyed.
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The latest news of the water sports industry landed on the island more than 20 years ago when tourists came to Cape Verde with the first kites.
After trying to kitesurf, Mitu suddenly fell in love with it and couldn’t help but notice that in case of a crash, as opposed to windsurfing, he would have much more chance to save the gear.
Above all, he switched to the new sport that would let him train more at a lower cost.
However, it is well known that kite gear is not cheap and his 150 euros salary was enough to buy only a single kite.
He would have had to keep saving to get a kiteboard as well.
Mitu could not wait so he made a virtue out of necessity and he started riding with his old surfboard with no straps, of course. Who would have thought that an old piece of wood could have made his fortune and make him, some years later, the world champion of a new discipline referred to as strapless kitesurfing.
A too weak Passport
Mitu was only 16 when he applied for his first visa. It was the earliest of many times he had to accept the denial of the possibility to attend the most coveted competitions.
This was a constant problem he faced during his whole career, and the biggest obstacle to surmount that still grips many younger riders that have the misfortune of being born on the “wrong” side of the world.
Only the luckiest kiters, coming from Europe and USA, have stonger passports that allow them to travel to many countries without restrictions. All the other ones live with the awareness of being able to do something great, to be someone, to make their wishes come true. But in the meantime, they can only keep fighting against bureaucracy to get the permit to travel to chase their wishes.
The Cape Verdean passport is ranked 130th in terms of travel freedom hence citizens are required to have a visa to get out of the country.
This is a sore point for all the talented national riders that can neither get the opportunities to join the international competitions nor give their dreams a chance to come true.
Dream big. Work hard.
Application after application, Mitu did not give up and made it possible.
He believed in his talent. By then, all he could do was invest in self-sponsoring training hard on one side, keep working on the other.
Passion for what he did, ambition, and perseverance have been essential to make it possible.
In 2003 he took part in a windsurf competition in the Canaries for the first time.
He realized that an unknown world was waiting to be discovered: escalators, cars and roads were only few of the things that impressed him. Mitu came back home more motivated than ever.
There was no way for him to devote himself entirely to compete. Then, in 2007 he had the chance of a lifetime: a sponsor would have refunded him all the travel expenses in case of the podium.
That time something went wrong as Nature was not on his side. Wind conditions were not good enough to compete, so the first ten athletes were awarded the same podium position.
The terms were clear: no podium, no money.
So close to making his dream come true, he suddenly watched the light go out again. And just like that, the demotivation took over.
It’s never the wrong time for the right one
After a tricky start, Mitu was now determined to try one more time. That would be his last chance: He was willing to do his best, putting heart and soul into it.
As expected, the results were quick in coming: everything seemed to be going right since the first stop of the world tour.
F-one, the sponsor, couldn’t be more satisfied and wanted to keep supporting him for the upcoming competitions.
The aim was to stay among the top riders but, out of the blue, Mitu defeated all his adversaries and climbed the ranking. 2008 was the year in which he was thinking about cutting down but, against all odds, Mitu has been crowned Kitesurf World Champion: all his efforts have been rewarded.
A great sign for the younger: nobody gives you anything in life, and you should win every success.
Believe in your dreams and fight for what you want. There is nothing wrong with somebody helping you but be careful not to kid yourself with empty promises. Love what you do so there is no doubt that you will find the strength to overcome any difficulties.
Life obstacles are blessings in disguise
The lack of money made Mitu decide to leave the windsurf and switch to kitesurfing.
The spirit of adaptation and the strongest passion did the rest: he decided not to wait for the perfect gear but used what he had and started riding with a simple old surfboard by thus being the undisputed legend of strapless.
The rest is history.
It couldn’t have gone any other way.
There are always ups and downs and Mitu knows it.
Every challenge he dealt with made him the great person he currently is, in and out the water
Mitu is recognizable by his permanent smile and his humbleness, making him quite unique.
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