Algarve bodyboarder Joana Schenker, one-time world champion and four-time European champion, has been awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit by President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
The ceremony was held on Monday, April 22 at the Belém Palace in Lisbon.
The recognition comes over a year after Schenker became the first Portuguese bodyboarder to win a world bodyboarding title.
Joana’s resumé also includes four European Tour of Bodyboard (ETB) trophies, five Portuguese national titles and a bronze medal at the 2015 ISA World Bodyboard Championship (WBC).
“I could never imagine that my beloved little piece of foam would end up being the reason for receiving a medal of merit from the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, when I started bodyboarding 18 years ago,” said Joana Schenker, cited by Surfer Today.
The 31-year-old athlete from Sagres added: “I truly believe that being able to do what you love is already reward and privilege enough. I also believe that when you do things for the right reasons, they can only grow and bring positive results.”
The Order of Merit (Ordem do Mérito) is a “Portuguese honorific order of civil merit that aims to award both Portuguese and foreign citizens for meritorious acts or services, which reveal self-sacrifice in favour of the community”.