Indonesia's first Olympic surfer
No one really taught me how to surf, I just learned along with my friends in Jimbaran, Kuta Beach, and then Uluwatu where my parents used to board.
Cruising through the waves comes naturally for Rio Waida, a professional surfer based in Uluwatu. At just 16 years-old, Rio made his mark in the surfing world, winning the Quiksilver Young Guns Surf in California and becoming the first Indonesian to win the title. His competitive spirit pushed him to enter a plethora of competitions, including the SEA Games 2019 (where he earned a silver medal) and the ISA World Surfing Games 2019 (where he came second). Most recently, he qualified and competed in the Tokyo Olympics, becoming the first and only Indonesian to represent at the world class championship.
Tell us your story – how did you get here?
I was born in Saitama, a city in Japan, but my father is from Jember in Java, Indonesia. My parents met when my Mum visited Indonesia from Japan. I moved to Bali when I was five years-old and have always lived in Jimbaran, not far from the beach.
My parents have always bodyboarded, so every time they went to the beach, I had to hang out and wait for them. Then I started bodyboarding too. It wasn’t long before I started standing up surfing on the bodyboard. I guess that’s when my parents decided to buy me a proper surfboard.
I remember one day, my friends started going out very deep into the green water and I just followed them out past the white waves. No one really taught me how to surf, I just learned along with my friends in Jimbaran, Kuta Beach, and then Uluwatu where my parents used to board. I was always having fun in the surf and so were my parents, so I was never afraid of how big the waves were.