A Peruvian surfer who overcame her humble origins to become world champion in 2014 told EFE she has her sights set on winning that title again next week in Biarritz, France.
The 29-year-old Anali Gomez leads the Peruvian team that will compete in the International Surfing Association's World Surfing Games from May 20-28.
The Andean nation won the team competition in last year's edition, which was held in Costa Rica.
"This year is difficult. There's Brazil, the United States and France, who are the host team. They're going to bring their best surfers to give us a fight," she said.
Gomez fulfilled her dream of becoming a champion surfer despite growing up in poverty in Punta Hermosa, a district of Lima province known for its beaches.
"My mother would tell me this sport was for people who had money. We didn't have money to buy surfboards or wet suits," Gomez, an Afro-Peruvian known by the nickname "La Negra," recalled.
She also remembered getting herself expelled from a religious school so she could spend more time surfing.
Once she fully dedicated herself to the sport, Gomez began racking up achievements, including national, Latin American and Pan-American titles.
"The 'gringuitas' (white girls) were a little annoyed because I was the one who had the talent. They didn't have the ability I had," Gomez said.
But she says that despite winning the World Surfing Games three years ago in her homeland, a lack of sponsors has kept her from competing in qualifying series events for the World Surf League's Women's Championship Tour.
Gomez said she didn't appeal to surfing apparel and equipment makers because of her race.
"It was because the brands were sponsoring people who fit what they were looking for as a model. They were looking for 'gringuitas' with light eyes" to represent them, she said. "If I'd had blonde hair, light skin and blue eyes, maybe I would've had that opportunity, even though I didn't have the talent."
Those financial difficulties led Gomez to launch the non-governmental organization "Surf para Todos" (Surfing for Everyone), where she gives classes to low-income students who can't afford the cost of an academy.
In terms of medium-term goals, the surfer said she was focused on qualifying for the Pan American Games in Lima in 2019 and then the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, where surfing will make its debut as an Olympic sport.