Fernando Pimenta and Emanuel Silva end wait for a medal in London
These weeks of the Olympics can be compared to a special course the world attends every four years. The objective? To get emotional while watching sports we really don’t understand. For the Portuguese, it happened with the Canoe Sprint, or the Kayak K2 1000 metres event, to be precise.
Fernando Pimenta and Emanuel Silva’s conquest of the K2 1000m Silver Medal has triggered talk among the Portuguese about how we are good at water sports and how one of the federations with the lowest budget was able to give us the desired medal.
But there was more. Who can forget the heart-breaking Table Tennis duel where the Portuguese team almost beat South Korea in the quarter-finals? For more than three hours a huge audience was transfixed, watching live on National Television, as Marco Freitas, João Monteiro and Tiago Apolónia came close to beating one of the best teams in the world. South Korea are ranked number two in the world and would duly go on to win the silver medal. It was like being an adolescent again, believing that a “ping pong game” should make us someone everybody would love to be friend of.
If there’s one thing these Olympics proved to all of us, it’s that Portugal is very good at suffering. We now have new heroes in Jessica Augusta, Marisa Barros and Ana Dulce Félix, who made fantastic runs in the Women’s Marathon.
We discovered that an Ovar Council worker, Clarisse Cruz, can run like a pro in the 3000 metres Steeplechase. Her achievement in reaching the final was all the more remarkable as she fell in the semi after stumbling at one of the hurdles (pictured), picked herself up, and went on to record a personal best time!
So, what have we learnt in these weeks? Probably nothing. We expect too much from athletes that don’t have the same support as their fellow competitors from other nations. We think that our athletes have the obligation to go for the medals, and if they do not they should stay at home as the solution.
Vicente Moura, the Head of the Portuguese Olympic Committee, answered the criticism in a novel way: “If we want medals, we should be looking for foreigners and give them Portuguese nationality.” Not good. Really, not good.
In four years’ time this will all be behind us, and we will be hoping, once again, that in Rio we are ready to win a big haul of medals. Hopefully, one of our athletes will train hard enough and find inspiration to overcome all the obstacles, and win one for us.