After Brazil's best performance in history, government guarantees investment in sport continues
With seven gold, six silver and six bronze medals, Brazil has achieved its best performance in the history of the Olympic Games. Eleven of these medals had never been won by Brazil before, ten of which in individual sports.
The country made it to 50 finals in Rio de Janeiro after only reaching 36 in London. There has also been significant progress in sports in which the country doesn't have much tradition, like canoeing (in which Brazil reached three podiums, all featuring Isaquias Queiroz). But medals do not tell the whole story. Historical performances have also been achieved away from podiums, with prominent placements in sports such as weightlifting, walk and road cycling. Brazil placed among the top 5 or 10 countries in each of those sports.
Since 2009, the federal government invested around R$ 4 billion to consolidate sport infrastructure in the country (building the National Sports Training Network) and provide support to specific athletes. "Now, on this last day of competition, we can say that Brazil had its best Olympic performance ever in Rio, a result that began with the record size of our delegation. There were 465 Brazilian athletes participating in the Games in Rio, up from 259 in London (2012) and 277 in Beijing (2008)," said Sport Minister Leonardo Picciani during a press conference held at the Rio Media Center.
According to the minister, individual athlete sponsorship programmes sponsored by the federal government, such as the Ministry of Sport's Bolsa Atleta (Athlete Grant), are behind the great results achieved in Rio. "Out of the 465 athletes, 358 (or about 77%) receive the Bolsa Atleta and Bolsa Pódio ("Podium Grant"), with R$ 18 million in investment," Picciani said.
He confirmed that the programmes will continue in the next Olympic cycle. "We will continue to offer the Bolsa Atleta, and will seek mechanisms to make sure the Bolsa Pódio is more efficient on a sport-by-sport basis. Sport needs to be seen as a necessary public policy for the development of the country," he said.
The Podium Grant is the highest category of the Bolsa Atleta, aimed at athletes with chances of winning medals in Olympic and Paralympic Games. Altogether, there are six types of grants in offer, depending on the category of athlete being sponsored (Base Athlete, Student Athlete, National-Level Athlete, International-Level Athlete, Olympic/Paralympic Athlete, and the special "Podium" category). "We understand that the Ministry of Sport has fulfilled its mission of supporting high-performance sports".
During the press conference, Leonardo Picciani also stressed that the legacy of the Games will not come solely for Rio de Janeiro, but will spread throughout the country. "The Olympic legacy is not just about Rio. There are sport facilities in all regions of Brazil. We have managed to raise about 60% of private capital to fund the Olympics. The Velodrome, the Arena Carioca 2 and the Olympic Tennis Centre will all be part of the National Sports Training Network", he said.
The National Sports Training Network is a Ministry of Sport initiative that interconnects various existing or under-construction sport facilities into a network focused on training young talents and providing adequate training conditions for Olympic and Paralympic athletes and teams.
Picciani also highlighted the infrastructure and urban mobility works built in Rio de Janeiro. According to the minister, the Olympic Boulevard, installed at the Porto Maravilha region (in front of Copacabana beach and Christ the Redeemer), was elected by fans and visitors as the city’s best tourist spot. "This shows how successful we have been with requalifying the port and Praça Mauá regions, which before were forgotten, degraded areas of the city."
"As a carioca [Rio native], I have to express my pride in the way the residents of Rio knew how to join in the Games and host tourists, both foreign and from all over Brazil, with the warmest welcome possible. We reach this last day of the Olympic Games with the certainty that we have fulfilled our role," concluded Leonardo Picciani.
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