A year ago, the cream of the world‘s Paralympic sport was gathered in Tokyo (Japan). Brazil‘s historic performance, finishing the Games in seventh place in the medal table, equaling the podium record (72) and surpassing the gold medal (22), met the expectations announced by the Brazilian Paralympic Committee (CPB) in 2017, when the entity released the strategic planning of the two cycles following Rio 2016.
After the mega-event in the Japanese capital, the planning was updated. The goals thinking about the Paris Games (France), two years from now, are the same as five years ago, for the most part. The intention is still to be present in at least 20 (of the 22) modalities and seek between 70 and 90 medals. The objective, however, goes beyond remaining in the top-10, as was intended in 2017, but to establish itself among the top eight on the board, which has been maintained since the London (United Kingdom) edition in 2012.
The first results of the cycle bring optimism. Also in 2021, at the Paracanoe World Cup, in Copenhagen (Denmark), a few days after the end of the Tokyo Games, Brazil won three medals and saw Fernando Rufino, the Cowboy of Steel, repeat the feat of Japan and take the gold in the 200 meters of the VL2 class (canoe for athletes who use arms and trunk for paddling).
At the weightlifting World Championship, in Tbilisi (Georgia), also last year, the Paralympic champion Mariana d’Andrea remained on the podium in the under-73 kg category, now as a silver medalist. Before the end of the year, there was time for Brazilian parataekwondo to conquer seven podiums at the Istanbul World Cup (Turkey), with highlight to Silvana Fernandes’ gold (bronze in Tokyo) in the under 57 kilos category (winner in Tokyo, Nathan Torquato withdrew in the semifinal category up to 63 kilos per injury). It was the best performance in the history of the event, surpassing the two medals (gold and bronze) of 2019.
In 2022, in a new edition of the Paracanoe World Cup, in Halifax (Canada), the Brazilians did even better, with four medals and the double in the 200 m of VL2, with Igor Tofalini in first and Rufino, this time, with silver. At the Paralympic Equestrian World Championships, in Hering (Denmark), Rodolpho Riskalla won bronze in the individual technical dispute (the same event in which he won silver in Tokyo) and in the freestyle – both in the Grade IV class (riders with light impairments in one or two limbs or with moderate visual impairment).
At the Paracycling World Cup, in Baie-Comeau (Canada), there were four medals. In the endurance test, Lauro Chaman took silver in the MC5 category (less severe physical disabilities) and Carlos Alberto Soares secured bronze in the MC1 (higher motor impairment). Jady Malavazzi, in turn, won bronze in the road disputes and in the H3 class time trial (athletes who use an adapted bicycle and propel it with their arms). In Tokyo, Brazil was not on the podium in the sport.
In wheelchair tennis, Brazil won an unprecedented bronze medal at the Team World Cup, in Vilamoura (Portugal), in the quad class (athletes with impairments in three or more body parts), with Leandro Pena, Augusto Fernandes and Ymanitu Silva. The latter was also runner-up in doubles at the Roland Garros Tournament, one of the four Grand Slams of the season, in Paris, in addition to reaching seventh position in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) ranking, a record in the career.
The sport that earned the country the most gold in Tokyo (eight), along with athletics, swimming also witnessed a promising start to a cycle. There were 53 podiums obtained by the 29 athletes from Brazil who were at the World Cup in Funchal (Portugal), with 19 gold medals. It was the best performance in the event’s history, even without the recently retired star Daniel Dias.
“The expressive result in the Swimming World Championship is certainly one of the great highlights of the cycle so far. In athletics, some athletes who shone in other editions of the Games, such as Petrúcio Ferreira [velocidade]Beth Gomes [arremesso do peso]Raissa Machado [lançamento do dardo] and Alessandro Silva [lançamento do disco], broke world records. The expectation is that in these two modalities, which, historically, have already brought many medals to Brazil, we will continue with achievements”, analyzed the director of High Performance Sports of the CPB, Jonas Freire, to Brazil Agency.
“In judo, Brazil won all the Grand Prix disputed this year. The blind soccer team also won all the championships it was in in 2022. In goalball, both the women’s and men’s teams won the championship of the Americas. It’s a beginning and a half of a cycle with good results and that gives us good prospects for the Paris Games”, added the manager.
Another goal adapted in the Committee’s planning was related to the presence of young people. In the planning announced in 2017, the expectation of the CPB was that at least 17% of the finalists in Paris would be up to 23 years old. In the update, the goal became 50% of the under-23 players to be present in the finals.
In Tokyo, 39 athletes (about 17% of the Brazilian team) were at most 23 years old at the time of the Games, and 22 of them (21 in non-team sports) played in finals, which represents just over 56% of the group. . In swimming (where 34% of the Paralympic selection was under-23), all competitors in this age group were in medal events. Scenario that was repeated in the Funchal World Cup.
Other sports, such as goalball, wheelchair basketball and soccer for the blind, have also been promoting new faces. In the latter, for example, the Brazilian under-23 team, which participates in the Grand Prix in Schiltigheim (France), thrashed the hosts, current European champions and who were playing with the main team, 4-1, on Tuesday ( 30).
“Our goal, with this goal [50% dos sub-23 atingindo finais], is to ensure the continuity of results from one cycle to another. In this way, we adjusted the goal to better meet our objective and to facilitate the monitoring process”, Freire explained.
There are other Paralympic World Cups ahead in 2022. The rowing event takes place in September in Racice (Czech Republic). The following month, it will be wheelchair rugby’s turn in Velje (Denmark). In November it’s five. Shooting and wheelchair basketball will be held in the United Arab Emirates. Judo in Baku (Azerbaijan). The table tennis is scheduled for Granada (Spain). The sitting volleyball match – which would initially take place in May, in Hanghzou (China) – will take place in Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina). Finally, in December, goalball (Portugal) and bocce will be held in Rio de Janeiro.
Translated to english by RJ983
From Brazil, by EBC News