Brazilian athletes drop Olympic dreams to help flood victims – World

RIO DE JANEIRO: Less than three months from the Olympic Games in Paris, Brazilian athletes from the devastated southern state of Rio Grande do Sul are giving up their dreams to compete and staying at home to help with the rescue of victims of the severe floods.

Rowers Evaldo Becker and Piedro Tuchtenhagen, due to compete in the qualifying phase for the Olympic Games in the lightweight double sculls category, decided to drop their sporting quest and join volunteers saving stranded neighbours, finding them shelter and distributing aid.

“I said: Piedro, I can’t do it anymore,” Becker said in an interview.

“The Olympics are the dream of our lives, but today we cannot see ourselves leaving our state,” said Tuchtenhagen.

Their training was disrupted by the floods that inundated the streets of the state capital Porto Alegre after the river Guaiba burst its bank. So they began helping to distribute donations and rescue families and their pets.

“I didn’t even think twice. It was my last chance to get to the Olympics. I was excited. But the flood waters took my dream away just as it took lives,” Becker said.

Swimmer Viviane Jungblut, who already qualified for the open water race, also dropped out and said on social media she would put her efforts into the rescue and recovery operations.

World and Olympic surfing champion Italo Ferreira, who is from So Paulo, went to Rio Grande do Sul to volunteer in the rescue efforts. The coach of the Brazil Olympic men’s judo team, Antonio Carlos Kiko Pereira, also joined in rescue work.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2024

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