quinta-feira, 26 de julho de 2012

Portuguese Olympians’ quest for Medals

Seventy-seven athletes represent Portugal at London 2012 Olympics
In a new section PortuGOAL.net will be bringing you news from a range of Portuguese sports beyond football. On the eve of the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics, Luís Filipe Cristóvão gives the lowdown on expectations for Portugal’s delegation in London.

Portugal got its first Olympic medal, a bronze one, in 1924, when its team was third classified in the Equestrian Nations Competition. A total of 22 medals have been awarded to Portuguese athletes in Olympic history (four gold, seven silver, and eleven bronze). If any of the 77 Portuguese sportsmen and women present at London clinch another one, it will be his or her first – none of the previous medallists are returning to this year’s Olympics.

Telma Monteiro will be the standard-bearer and is also out in front as regards the most probable medal winner, competing in Judo. With European and World titles on her curriculum, Telma leads a Judo team that includes two other outsiders for a medal run: João Pina and Joana Ramos.

Sailing is another of the sports in which Portugal has a tradition, with four medals conquered, the last one in 1996. Gustavo Lima, João Rodrigues and the duo of Álvaro Marinho/Miguel Nunes had some bright performances in past competitions, and will probably be around the top classified competitors in their categories.

Injuries rule out big hitters

But Portugal always dreams of Athletics honours. Unfortunately, big names like Rui Silva, Nélson Évora (gold medallist in 2008 in the triple jump) and Naide Gomes are ruled out by injury. Jéssica Augusto will run the Marathon, where beating the African competitors would be too much to ask. The same applies to Sara Moreira, in the 5,000m and 10,000m. Both runners are amongst the best in Europe, but it’s a totally different challenge to do it in a World Competition.

Badminton, Cycling, Equestrianism, Gymnastics, Swimming, Rowing, Table Tennis, Shooting and Triathlon are the other sports where Portugal will be competing. While all of the 77 athletes will be satisfied just to be present at an event like the Olympics, they all nurture, in their secret dreams, a wish to conquer a medal.

It would be unexpected, but that’s usually the case with Portuguese medallists. We don’t expect to win. Sometimes, we just do it.


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