It was enough for athletic competitions to start being played in the Tokyo-2020 Paralympics for Brazil to take a leap in the medal ranking. With five golds, one silver and seven bronzes won in a single night, the country rose to 6th place in the medals table. Of the five times a Brazilian athlete went to the highest place on the podium, four were from athletics: Silvania Costa (Long jump), Yeltsin Jacques (5000m test), Petrucio Ferreira (100m dash race), and Wallace Santos (shot put).
The first to win gold was Yeltsin Jacques in the 5000m race in the T11 class (for athletes with visual impairments). Then, Silvânia Costa, who defended the title of Olympic champion conquered in Rio-2016 in the long jump, also in the T11 class, got the second consecutive gold medal when jumping 5 meters that guaranteed her the highest place on the podium. But the Brazilian did not have an easy life. She only reached the mark that guaranteed her the Olympic bi-championship in the fifth attempt.
In the F55 class of field disputes (for athletes who have spinal injuries and compete using a wheelchair), Wallace Santos won the gold medal in shot put. But, unlike Silvânia, Santos had a more relaxed dispute in his favor. The Brazilian dominated the competition with the three best shots. The fifth and last was the best: 12.63m. The brand guaranteed Wallace Santos, in addition to the Olympic title, the world record.
In the noblest race, and one of the most awaited in athletics, Petrúcio Ferreira did not disappoint. Considered the fastest Paralympic on the planet, and holder of the world record (10s42), the Brazilian won the 100m sprint in the T47 class (for those with an amputated arm), with the best time in the history of the Paralympics (10s42) and his best in this kind of proof. Like Silvânia, Petrucio became two-time Olympic champion.
With six golds won so far in Tokyo, Brazil is close to reaching the mark of 100 gold medals in the history of the Paralympic Games. Even Japan, in 12 editions that the country competed, were a total of 87 gold medals won. And for Brazil not to earn the other seven that remain to reach the one hundred mark, it would have to have a worse participation than in 2004, in Athens, when 14 gold medals were won.
Since the Paralympic Games in Greece, Brazilian athletes have stood out, and since 2008, in Beijing, Brazil has always remained among the top ten nations in the medal ranking. The country is definitely a Paralympic power. In Tokyo, the expectation of the CPB (Brazilian Paralympic Committee) is that Brazil gets the best place in the history of the games, with the possibility of surpassing up to 72 medals won in Rio de Janeiro.
Emergence of a Paralympic Power
Although the evolution of the results became more evident after Athens, Brazil was already a competitive country in the Paralympic disputes, with good participation in the games of the 1980s. However, it was from the 1990s onwards that the country started to promote actions that strengthened the Paralympic movement.
A decisive moment was the creation of the Brazilian Paralympic Committee (CPB) in 1995. A year later, at the Atlanta Paralympic Games (1996), the first in which the country was represented by the entity, Brazil won 21 medals in all (2 gold, 6 silver and 13 bronze), 14 more than the seven won in Barcelona four years earlier.
One of the main milestones that represented the turning point in the Brazilian Paralympic movement was the enactment of the Agnelo/Piva Law, enacted in 2001, which established a permanent financial source for sports in the country. In general terms, the law determines that 2.7% of the Caixa Lotteries proceeds, with the discount on prizes, be allocated to the Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB), which receives 62.96%, and to the Brazilian Paralympic Committee (CPB), which acquires 37.04% of the total quota.
The expansion of investments gave Brazil a change in quality in terms of income in a perceptive way. After finishing 24th in the medals table in Sydney, Australia, Brazilian athletes took the country to 14th place in the 2004 ranking at the Athens Paralympic Games, winning 14 golds, 12 silvers and 7 bronzes — 11 more medals than than in the previous edition, when Brazil won 22 (6 golds, 10 silvers and 6 bronzes).
The annual funds transferred by Caixa have been fundamental not only for maintaining Brazil as a prominent country in the games, but also for the growth of sports income. At the Paralympic Games in Beijing, China, Brazil, for the first time, managed to finish among the top ten countries in the competition, with a total of 47 medals (16 Gold, 14 Silver and 17 Bronze).
After the 2008 games, the country has not left the top 10 of the medal ranking. In London, he was ranked 7th, and at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, in 2016, he finished in 8th place. Despite winning more medals in total (72) in Brazil than in England (43), the country won fewer golds when it played the games at home.
The Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro also contributed to the permanence of Brazil as a Paralympic power. Not only because the event stimulated the construction of the Training Center, located in São Paulo, but also “because of the investment made in that cycle and which allowed athletes like Silvania, Petrúcio and Yeltsin to compete in the games”, said the professor at the University from São Paulo, Ciro Winckler, who was Athletics and High Performance Coordinator at CPB for over 10 years,
Keeping an eye on future generations
In addition to the creation of the CPB, the Agnelo/Paiva Law and the construction of the Training Center, investments by sponsors and the transfer of grants from the Federal Government also enter into the equation for Brazilian success.
The Paralympic Committee also carries out works that allow a constant renewal of athletes. One of the strategies to achieve this goal is the organization of School and University Paralympics that encourage the initiation of young people into adapted sports and high performance adapted sports.
According to CPB, the entity also approaches schools and universities to promote knowledge by stimulating the production of scientific research on adapted sports science. Professor Ciro Winckler recalls that this approximation with sectors of education has been part of the CPB’s nature since its creation. “The movement to create the CPB was inserted in actions within universities since the focus of this movement has always been on training professionals and supporting athletes based on science, which continues today. On this path, the CPB is focused on training more than 100,000 PE teachers throughout Brazil”, he said.