Tokyo Paralympics: Maria Carolina Santiago makes history and takes home R$ 544 thousand

Maria Carolina Santiago with her 6 medals in Tokyo (Ale Cabral/CPB)

Maria Carolina Santiago with her 6 medals in Tokyo (Ale Cabral/CPB)

Swimmer Maria Carolina Santiago, who is visually impaired, made history at the Tokyo-2020 Paralympic Games. In her first participation in the event, she won three golds, one silver and one bronze, became the country’s third most winning female athlete of all time in Paralympics and, in addition, will take home a prize of R$544,000.

“All this award came to say that the work was done and very well done. What they did (the technical committee) was to bring me here as competitive as possible and as prepared as possible. I arrived and we went to fight and, when we got there, we left with the medals. That’s been amazing for me, I still have to digest it all, but it’s definitely Brazil that won”, believes the swimmer.

According to the medal awards published by the Brazilian Paralympic Committee (CPB), Maria Carolina Santiago will receive R$480 thousand (R$160 thousand each) for the golds won in the 100 m breaststroke, 50 m freestyle and 100 m freestyle , R$ 32 thousand for silver in the 4 x 100 m freestyle relay and another R$ 32 thousand for bronze in the 100 m backstroke.

In addition to the cash prize, Maria Carolina Santiago became the third largest female medalist in Brazil in the history of the Paralympic Games, only behind the legends Ádria Santos and Terezinha Guilhermina. The first raced from Seoul-1988 to Beijing-2008 and collected four golds, eight silvers and one bronze. The second, which debuted at the 2008 Paralympics and went on to Rio-2016, won three golds, two silvers and three bronzes.

Neither Ádria Santos nor Terezinha Guilhermina, however, won so many gold medals in the same edition, which makes Maria Carolina Santiago the record holder in a single Paralympics. The curious thing is that her debut in the Games took place only when she was 36 years old. She has Morning Glory syndrome, a congenital change in the retina that reduces the field of vision. Despite this, she practiced conventional swimming until the end of 2018 and only joined the Paralympic movement in the following year.

“This is the realization of a dream that started there in 2018, that I arrived at the Paralympic movement, that changed me as a person. I understood more and more how it worked and how great it is. This result is a realization of a dream that was dreamed of together with so many people, with the technical committee, with the CPB, with my club, than Clube Náutico União, with so many people who help us. I really arrived here very competitive, I came very prepared, but three golds (laughs), one silver and one bronze, it was a lot. I’m very satisfied and now it’s time to celebrate”, celebrated the swimmer, who has barely finished her participation in Tokyo and is already thinking about 2024.

“I want Paris! This cycle will be shorter, but I wanted to make it a more complete cycle, with fewer complications, fewer pauses. I wanted to do something more specific, maybe reevaluate this program so big (she competed in six tests in Tokyo) and see some more specific tests to perform and for sure: Paris, we’re here”.


When Maria Carolina Santiago won her last medal (on Wednesday morning), Brazil reached 48 podiums at the Paralympic Games with 15 golds, 12 silvers and 21 bronzes. Until that moment, the total value of the prize that the CPB would have to pay out to the athletes was R$ 3,984,000.00.

In addition to the swimmer, other multimedalists will come out with good money from Tokyo. Yeltsin Jacques, gold in the 5000 m and 1500 m T11 of athletics, guaranteed R$ 320,000 and will still compete in the marathon on the last day of the competition. Gabriel Bandeira, newcomer to the Paralympic Games, won a gold, two silvers and a bronze and still has one more competition to dispute. In all, he earned R$ 304 thousand.

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