Mon, 26 Jul 2021

Brazil Olympics preview: More than just football

Xinhua
21 Jul 2021, 10:44 GMT+10

TOKYO, July 21 (Xinhua) -- The Tokyo Games will mark Brazil's 23rd participation at the Olympics, with the South American nation having missed just one edition (1928) since its inaugural appearance in 1920. In total, Brazilian athletes have won 129 medals in 15 different summer sports. Xinhua looks at the Brazilian athletes and teams likely to make an impact in Japan.

QUICK FACTS

Brazil will be sending its largest contingent of athletes to an Olympic Games in foreign territory, with 301 competitors across 35 sports making the trip to Tokyo. The previous record of 277 athletes was set at the Beijing 2008 Games.

Overall, South America's largest country has accumulated 30 Olympic gold medals, 36 silver and 63 bronze. The seven gold medals won at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro marked Brazil's biggest ever haul, eclipsing the five it secured in Athens 12 years earlier.

Sailing is historically Brazil's most successful event with seven gold medals, followed by athletics (five), volleyball (five), judo (four) and beach volleyball (three).

Sailor Robert Scheidt is the country's most decorated Olympian with two gold medals, two silvers and a bronze.

TOKYO FLAG BEARERS

Judoka Ketleyn Quadros and volleyball player Bruno Rezende will lead Brazil's squad into the Olympic Stadium arena in Friday's opening ceremony.

Quadros became the first Brazilian woman to win an Olympic medal in an individual sport when she claimed bronze in the 57kg judo event at the Beijing 2008 Games.

Rezende was a member of the Brazilian men's volleyball team that won gold in Rio five years ago. He also played in the Brazil outfits that took silver in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.

GREAT TRACK HOPE

Alison dos Santos' recent performances in the 400m hurdles have raised hopes that he could become Brazil's first Olympic medallist in an individual athletics track event since the 1988 Games in Seoul.

The 21-year-old has broken the South American record in the event four times this year, including a time of 47.34sec in Stockholm on July 4.

His biggest rival in Tokyo will be Norway's Karsten Warholm, who clocked 46.70sec earlier this month, breaking Kevin Young's 1992 world record.

DOUBLE TROUBLE

More than 15 years separate them, but Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa and Rio 2016 silver medallist Agatha Bednarczuk clicked the moment they formed their beach volleyball partnership in 2017.

Since then, the duo has registered three podium finishes in the world tour finals, including the winner's trophy in 2018.

Duda, 22, and Bednarczuk, 38, currently lead the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) world rankings and will enter the Tokyo Games among the favorites to take the gold medal.

FIGHTING CHANCE

Bia Ferreira will spearhead Brazil's hopes in boxing as she aims for gold in the 60kg category.

The 28-year-old won the lightweight title at the 2019 world championships in Russia and finished 2020 as the world rankings leader in her division.

Ferreira says she is unperturbed at being a favorite to take home the gold medal.

"I'm happy to be considered the one to beat because I believe that when you're the target it's because your work is being recognized. I'm very wary because I want to stay in this position for a long time," she was quoted telling Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo.

SURF'S UP

The recent dominance of Brazilians Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreira on the world surf tour make them firm favorites to triumph at the Tokyo Games.

Both have made no secret of their desire to add an Olympic gold medal to their growing list of accolades, describing the prospect of an Olympic gold medal "a dream" in recent media interviews.

Their main challengers include John Florence and Kolohe Andino of the United States and Australian pair Julian Wilson and Owen Wright.

In the women's competition, Brazil will be represented by Silvana Lima and Tatiana Weston-Webb.

BACK FROM THE BRINK

Brazil will be bidding for a fourth men's volleyball gold medal at these Games and it would take a considerable upset to deny Renan Dal Zotto's team.

The Canarinhos are currently No.1 in the FIVB world rankings and are also the reigning Olympic champions.

The Brazil camp suffered a major scare in April, when Dal Zotto was admitted to an intensive unit with COVID-19 and needed the help of a ventilator to aid his breathing. In an interview with TV Globo in June, Dal Zotto said he thought he had "died twice" during his 36 days in hospital.

The 60-year-old has since made a full recovery and was cleared by doctors to travel to Tokyo last week.

Brazil's major rivals for the gold medal are Poland, Russia, France and the United States.

FOOTBALL KINGS

Despite having won five World Cup titles, Brazil had to wait until Rio 2016 to secure its first Olympic men's football gold medal. Neymar was the hero, converting the decisive penalty as Brazil beat Germany on penalties in the final at the Maracana stadium.

Neymar won't be present this time, but head coach Andre Jardine still has a wealth of talent and experience at his disposal with a squad that includes Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz, Lyon playmaker Bruno Guimaraes, and former Barcelona pair Dani Alves and Malcom.

Brazil have been drawn in Group D in Tokyo alongside Germany, Saudi Arabia and Cote d'Ivoire.

Likewise, the Brazil women's team will be expected to advance to the latter stages of their competition.

Led by Swede Pia Sundhage, the first foreigner to coach the national women's team, Brazil will be keen to atone for a disappointing showing in Rio, when they lost the bronze medal match to Canada.

It could be the last appearance at the Olympics for 43-year-old midfielder Formiga Mota and six-time Ballon d'Or winner Marta, who is 35.

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