By Rogério Silva
Translated by Loretta Murphy
The limited number of Brazilian medals in the Rio 2016 Olympics provoked a strong reflection among fans: What does it take to make the country an athletic world power? Much has been said about the disproportionate socio-economic conditions in Brazil, which result in inconsistencies especially in the areas of education and infrastructure. Are the mediocre results in sports a consequence of our failure in education? And is our eternal flaw of leaving everything to the last minute a portrayal of our lack of planning?
The Olympics are over and now thoughts move to Tokyo 2020. The Japanese, by the way, have done their homework well in advance. But there are still good athletes going onto courts, diving into pools, and warming up on tracks. Now it is the Paralympics’ turn. And in that department, Brazil puts on a show.
We are a Paralympic force. In London 2012, we ended up placing a respectable seventh in the overall medals chart, our best result to date: 43 in total, including 21 golds. Brazil has participated since 1972 in Heidelberg, Germany. Since then, we have won 229 medals. For 2016, the Brazilian Committee’s goal is to figure among the top 5 in the world. The Brazilian delegation is the largest in history, with 278 athletes.
Brazil has the best paralympic swimmer in history, Daniel Dias, with 15 medals, including 10 gold. He also holds six world records and 14 titles in international competitions. Other sources of national pride include the current track champions: Alan Fonteles in T43/ 44 and Terezinha Guilhermina in T11, the fastest in their categories.
Clodoaldo Silva, nicknamed “Clodoágua”, inspired many of these athletes in Athens 2004 but is going to retire. At the time, he won six golds and one bronze. He will take his last laps, saying good-bye to competitions in national pools.
In group competitions, we lead in 5-a-side soccer for the visually impaired. Our team has been undefeated for almost a decade and is seeking its third consecutive gold medal. It also has the world’s best player, Ricardinho.
The Rio 2016 Paralympics feature 23 sports. Many of them are divided into several categories and subcategories. This is due to the different disabilities. There are 160 countries represented by more than 4000 athletes. The opening ceremony could not be on a more auspicious date: September 7 – a national holiday commemorating Brazilian Independence Day. The closing ceremony takes place 11 days later, on the most sacred stage of all national sports: The enigmatic Maracana stadium.
The slogan “Live Your Passion” is the inspiration for this first edition ever held in Brazil. Rio de Janeiro, the marvellous city has been transformed. Many actions were taken over the last seven years in order to set up the most appropriate environment possible for the greatest reception ever held in our land. Degraded areas were revitalized and investments in the Centre and in the Olympic Park promise to be the great legacy of the Rio games.
Not everything is roses. Safety concerns remain because organized crime continues to pose challenges for the authorities. In addition, Guanabara Bay is still polluted.
But Brazilians are optimistic by nature and should let the momentum of the party guide the streetcar of our history. After all, we are the owners of bossa nova and samba. And Gisele Bundchen is 100% ours.
[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#aef997″ border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Rogério Silva is a journalist, director of TV Paranaiba, affiliated Record in the Triangulo Mineiro / MG. He also directs the rádio Educadora journalism department, transmitter of the Jovem Pan in Minas Gerais.[/dropshadowbox]