The eyes of Jerusa Geber Santos.
by Maya Gasparoto
Translated by Loretta Murphy
Track and field has been part of the Paralympic Games since their first edition in Rome in 1960. Depending on the degree of visual impairment, athletes may be accompanied by a track guide in the competitions. The two are connected by a leg rope and the guide must not pull it, but only guide the athlete. Though extremely important, guides began to receive medals only as of the 2011 Parapan American Games in Guadalajara.
In November 2015, Guilherme Santana and Terezinha Guilhermina ended a 5-year partnership that resulted in three Paralympic, nine World, seven Para Pan American, more than 20 international and approximately 60 national medals. On that same day, he was invited to work with Jerusa Geber Santos. Santana will run alongside Geber in the 100 meters T11 of the Rio Paralympic Games.
Check out the interview with track guide Guilherme Santana, conducted especially for the last Wave Magazine edition featuring Rio 2016:
Wave: To begin, I would like you to comment on your first contact with the sport.
Guilherme: My father always encouraged us to do something. When I was small, I tried playing futsal but I failed. When I turned eight, my father gave me a boxing glove but I did not take to it. With the encouragement of my brother, I started playing soccer. As I was very bad on the field, I went to the net. On the first day of training, I let in all kinds of goals, but with time I got better. Then I started training in basketball, but was not very good. People asked me “Why don’t you try track? You spend more time running on the court than you do getting baskets.” I discovered track when I was in college (Guilherme studied Physical Education at Unicesumar in Maringa, Parana, Brazil). I joined the city team in 2006 where I stayed until I met Terezinha in 2010.
I like to be playful when I work, I’m always singing, making up silly songs and telling jokes.
Wave: How and when did you start your work with Jerusa?
Guilherme: The person who guided Jerusa was her husband. They made me an offer to guide her in November 2015. When we first started working together, she was a little discouraged because she thought she would not make the Paralympics. She was between the 5th and 6th in the world and 6th and 7th in Brazil. Only the top three in Brazil would qualify. We trained a lot and I always motivated her. I like to be playful when I work, I’m always singing, making up silly songs and telling jokes.
Wave: On July 19 the call came for the Rio Games. How did it feel to know that you would participate in this historic moment in Brazilian and world sports?
Guilherme: We knew from the numbers that she would be called, but we still got goose bumps. When we saw her name on the list we were very happy. I said to her “The worst is over, now comes the best part.”
Wave: You participated in the London Paralympic Games, in the Toronto Parapan Games and the World Championships last year. Is it different from competing nationally?
Guilherme: The Paralympic Games are very different from the Parapan and the World Games. It is a unique moment for athletes. We work four years to earn a place and it is very gratifying to see that you are in.
Wave: But do you think it will be even more special since you are “at home”?
Guilherme: The only time I attended the Paralympics was in London and I think there’s a differential in relation to Brazil. The British embrace all sports. Brazilians are fond of football and end up forgetting about the other sports. I hope that with the Olympics and Paralympics in Brazil the population embraces more sports and participates more. The advantage here is that we will better understand, and there will be more cheering for Brazil. That will give us that extra push and will make a difference for us athletes.