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HomeOutdoor AdventuresThe Trailblazers of Brazilian Gymnastics – An Previous Faculty Gymnastics Weblog

The Trailblazers of Brazilian Gymnastics – An Previous Faculty Gymnastics Weblog

The opposite day I printed an article highlighting the fashionable historical past of Brazilian gymnastics. Among the many suggestions I acquired from that article was a query concerning Luisa Parente Ribeiro, Brazil’s first 2x Olympian in ladies’s inventive gymnastics (WAG) who competed on the 1988 and 1992 Olympics.

She was not included in my final article because it centered on gymnasts who competed in 2012, or extra not too long ago than that. All however two of the gymnasts featured in my final article had logged competitions as not too long ago as 2021. Different notable omissions included Camila Comin, one in every of Brazil’s most necessary gymnasts of the twenty first century, however final appeared on the World Championships degree in 2006.

I discovered the concentrate on Luisa Parente Ribeiro somewhat fascinating as gymnastics followers have a tendency to recollect her story greater than her contemporaries.

Luisa is a well-liked gymnast by the requirements of twentieth Century Brazilian WAG. That is largely as a result of she was a 2x Olympian which introduced extra concentrate on her profession. Luisa additionally had the good thing about expertise on her facet. She was the primary Brazilian Olympian to compete within the late Nineteen Eighties and early Nineteen Nineties, an period the place competitors footage that includes Brazilian gymnasts is much extra widespread on the Web than Brazilians of earlier eras. Lastly, only some days in the past her profession was highlighted by Pamchenkova, the favored gymnastics Twitter account with almost 12K followers. This introduced Luisa’s story to the forefront.

With all the eye on Luisa Parente Ribeiro, I needed to supply an article specializing in Brazil’s WAG historical past within the Chilly Conflict period with a particular emphasis on the gymnasts who predate Luisa Parente Ribeiro’s profession. One factor to notice, for most of the gymnasts featured on this article, I don’t have footage of them throughout their time as athletes. To compensate for that, I might be utilizing a mixture of extra pictures I’ve of different Chilly Conflict period Brazilian WAGs, and extra pictures I’ve of extra fashionable WAGs whose careers had been potential due to the trailblazers who got here a long time earlier than them.

Daiane dos Santos

Marion Dullius

Let’s begin all the best way again on the very starting with Marion Dullius who first seems within the standings on the 1963 Pan American Video games. In her profession Dullius was afforded few alternatives to compete. On the time WAG was pivoting from athletes travelling by way of ocean liners and into the jet age. Within the Sixties the World Championships had been held on solely two events (1962 and 1966). This was as a result of quaint format the place they had been held simply as soon as each 4 years.

As for the Olympics, that dream was by no means a viable choice for Marion as a result of Brazil wouldn’t have an Olympic gymnast in both males’s or ladies’s gymnastics till 1980. That was on prime of gender boundaries the place Brazil had little emphasis on supporting its feminine athletes. The Olympics had been held thrice within the Sixties, and Brazil despatched solely 5 ladies to the Olympics in the complete decade. Its comes out to a measly 2.5% participation fee for girls within the Brazilian program. That’s what Marion needed to overcome in her period.

So what does Marion Dullius do? She takes her one and solely alternative when it presents itself and attends the 1966 World Championships. This was an period the place Pan American gymnasts didn’t compete on the World Championships. The USA didn’t compete on the World Championships for the primary time till 1962, and on the very subsequent World Championships WAG witnessed Brazil’s first presence as effectively, even when it wasn’t within the type of a full workforce.

It will be inaccurate to categorise Brazil as a program that lacks longstanding historical past. Due to Marion, its historical past goes again additional than most Pan American applications. Dullius completed 148th within the All-Round on the 1966 World Championships. It was a low rating, however on the trail to changing into an Olympic gold medal successful program Brazil needed to begin someplace, and that “someplace” was Marion.

Flavia Saraiva

Silvia Anjos

Brazil’s subsequent main breakthrough occurred within the Seventies as Brazil sought to attend one of many new occasions that had been not too long ago added to the gymnastics schedule. The competitors in query could be none aside from the inaugural American Cup in 1976. On the finish of {qualifications} Brazil’s Silvia Anjos discovered herself in 4th place, only one spot behind Elena Davydova within the standings. Anjos was even beating Zsuzsa Nagy, an Olympic medalist from the 1972 Olympics.

For a second, Brazil was experiencing success. That was an accomplishment even when there have been causes to dampen the temper. Zsuzsa Nagy was behind a Brazilian solely as a result of she struggled on two completely different occasions in {qualifications}. Nagy would get better in All-Round Finals whereas Anjos completed sixth. For Zsuzsa, by 1976 she was an growing older veteran who had fallen from the highest of the hierarchy and beating her wasn’t a sign {that a} gymnast was on the rise.

Altair Prado

However none of that mattered. For a second Brazil was “in it” and feeling as if one in every of their gymnasts was sustaining an excellent footing with the remainder of the sector. Not getting fully blown out from the second aggressive play started. For Brazil, the 1976 American Cup was its first second of getting a end result to level to with satisfaction whereas competing in opposition to iconic European gymnasts.

Like their look on the Pan American Video games in 1963, the World Championships in 1966, and the American Cup in 1976, Brazil was often the primary in its area to enroll and ship its WAGs overseas to compete. This not solely contains the mainstay competitions, however thrilling new ones just like the American Cup.

Silvia Anjos would characterize Brazil at each the 1978 and 1979 World Championships. The primary cases of Brazil ever sending a full workforce to a serious competitors. Earlier than then Brazilian gymnasts competed as people.

Lilian Carrascoza

Lilian Carrascoza

Right now Brazil is famed for its residence crowd setting and that custom goes all the best way again to the Seventies. Brazil served because the host of the 1978 World Cup and in contrast to the fashionable World Cup, again within the Seventies it was held every year and was handled as a “mini World Championships.” At all times attracting lineups that had been a lot stronger than what it attracts at the moment.

Lilian Carrascoza used residence area benefit to her profit and completed eleventh within the All-Round. One of many gymnasts she beat was Hungary’s Eva Kanyo, a extremely regarded gymnast within the prime of her profession. It was very a lot an announcement win to return out forward in opposition to such a succesful European gymnast. Carrascoza’s stat line was similar to being a robust All-Arounder able to conserving tempo with the center of the sector of an Olympic All-Round Finals.

Carrascoza would make historical past for Brazil by qualifying to Occasion Finals on beam. She additionally grew to become the primary Brazilian WAG to grace the quilt of Worldwide Gymnast because of her World Cup Efficiency.

For Brazilian WAG, the 1978 World Cup was the primary main gymnastics occasion it had ever hosted and its first occasion of getting one in every of its gymnasts preserve tempo with a area of all-star rivals. Lilian would characterize Brazil on the World Championships in 1978, 1979, and 1981.

Altair Prado

Marian Fernandes

One other trademark of contemporary Brazilian WAG is the insane longevity of its gymnasts. Like its famed residence crowd setting, that is one other development that goes again to the Seventies when Brazil first started fielding full sized groups. Marian Fernandes represented Brazil on the World Championships in 1978, 1979, 1983, 1985, and 1987.

Whereas that stat line might seem like she regularly missed competitions, she really missed just one main competitors from 1975-1988. The “lacking years” are cases the place no World Championships had been held, or Olympic years the place Brazil didn’t qualify a full workforce. Within the Nineteen Eighties, completely nobody from any of the main applications was able to such longevity.

On the 1980 Olympics solely 11 gymnasts had been over the age of 18 and solely three had been over the age of 20. Marian Fernandes completed historic longevity proper in the midst of the “little lady” period of gymnastics.

On the World Championships alone Fernandes personally competed in opposition to 24 completely different Soviet WAGs as a result of the turnaround fee was so excessive in Marian’s period. This represents 34% of all Soviet WAGs to have ever appeared on the Group-1 degree (World Championships and/or Olympics). This statistic doesn’t embody the competitions Marian Fernandes missed.

As for the Romanians, she competed in opposition to the next gymnasts in World Championships competitors: Nadia Comaneci, Teodora Ungureanu, Emilia Eberle, Anca Grigoras, Lavinia Agache, Ecaterina Szabo, Aurelia Dobre, and Daniela Silivas.

Jade Barbosa (L), Daniele Hypolito (M), and Thais Fidelis (R)

Claudia Magalhaes (Costa)

Claudia, who seems below the identify “Magalhaes” in most outcomes sheets but additionally “Costa” could be Brazil’s first Olympic WAG. On the time, Brazil nonetheless ranked pretty low on the gender equality scale. Previous to Moscow-1980, solely 39 ladies had ever represented Brazil on the Olympics throughout all sports activities. However for Brazilian WAG, it nonetheless managed to realize equal standing with its males’s facet of the game as the 2 disciplines progressed up the ranks. When it was time to make their Olympic debut, Brazil’s males’s and girls’s gymnastics applications made their Olympic debut collectively.

Magalhaes and her Brazilian contemporaries of the 1978-1981 period had been beginning to change the requirements of Brazil’s WAG program. The nation was not showing within the very backside of the standings in All-Round competitors. With every passing 12 months Brazilian gymnasts had been getting barely higher. In Claudia’s period issues had been on the level the place Brazil’s prime gymnasts might attain the fiftieth percentile of the rankings. This meant they might discover choose conditions the place they might carry out effectively in opposition to the decrease rating gymnasts of established WAG powers.

It meant Brazilian WAG was rising from glorified members to a program that was beginning to construct one thing particular. When Claudia competed on the 1980 Olympics, the lowered aggressive area because of the 1980 Olympic boycott virtually definitely allowed her to qualify to All-Round Finals. It was Brazil’s first look in All-Round Finals on the Group-1 degree.

Rebeca Andrade

Just like the 1976 American Cup and the 1978 World Cup, there may be virtually definitely an asterisk to this end result. However when you’re Brazil and lack the flexibility to supply sturdy outcomes, you make the most of the wonderful moments when alternatives current themselves. Utilizing these outcomes to put a basis when this system can finally win with out extenuating circumstances being an element.

Brazil’s look on the 1980 Olympic All-Round Finals was the byproduct of all of the  progress the nation had made in recent times. Brazil wasn’t qualifying to All-Round Finals exterior of the Nineteen Eighties Olympics, however their WAGs had been regularly lacking the cutoff by solely ten or so spots within the rankings. Bringing this system simply shut sufficient to the place it might really make the most of the 1980 Olympic boycott. Even with a boycott Claudia completed solely thirty first within the standings.

However she made historical past as Brazilian WAG’s first Olympian and first All-Round qualifier in a Group-1 competitors. Claudia would proceed to characterize Brazil within the coming years together with the 1981 and 1983 World Championships. Not giving up the game till she was between 21 to 22 years in age. Like Fernandes, it was spectacular longevity in an period the place few gymnasts competed previous their twentieth birthday. She competed in 5 consecutive Group-1 competitions. Earlier than then, no Brazilian WAG had competed in additional than two. Most significantly, she was a crucial step within the linage that introduced Brazilian WAG from Marion Dullius to Rebeca Andrade.

Altair Prado

Altair Prado

From 1979 to 1980 Claudia Magalhaes was with out query the highest gymnast in Brazil’s WAG program. However sizzling on Claudia’s tail within the late Seventies was Altair Prado. For Altair, it was tragically unhealthy luck that she achieved breakout success in 1981 and have become Brazil’s most succesful gymnast so far proper after the 1980 Olympic boycott. Prado missed the chance which introduced itself in 1980.

Altair Prado’s routines in 1981 had been so superior to that of her teammates that she positioned 3.45 factors increased than every other Brazilian gymnast on the 1981 World Championships. Proper after Brazil acquired its first Olympian in 1980 with Claudia Magalhaes, in 1981 this system had produced its most compelling gymnast so far in Altair Prado.

On the 1981 Antibes Worldwide Prado was competing in opposition to gymnasts from Canada, Europe, and the established powers. Regardless of representing an “outsider” program, Prado completed ninth out of 18 gymnasts. Prado’s success was quick lived, however by the requirements of Brazil it was legendary that this Brazilian gymnast might maintain her personal in a largely European area. In an period the place the Japanese Bloc was thought-about such a dominant energy that beating even their B-Staff and C-Staff gymnasts was thought-about a prestigious benchmark, Prado proved that benchmark was inside attain for the Brazilian program.

Altair represented Brazil on the World Championships in 1979, 1981, 1983, and 1985. Sadly, the very best years of her profession didn’t correlate with the 1980 or 1984 Olympics. Altair Prado is likely one of the most fascinating gymnasts of twentieth century Brazilian gymnastics, however sadly for Prado, she by no means grew to become an Olympian. The rationale for that, was the rise of Tatiana Figueiredo.

Tatiana Figueiredo

Tatiana Figueiredo

The rise of Tatiana Figueiredo is somewhat straight ahead. From her very first day as a member of the senior nationwide workforce, Figueiredo was undoubtedly Brazil’s new #1 ranked gymnast. It was a title she held in 1983, 1984, and 1985. Naturally, this elevated her to the 1984 Olympics the place thanks to a different boycott, Tatiana completed twenty seventh within the All-Round.

One of many hallmarks of Figueiredo’s profession was her younger age. Whereas Brazil was fielding gymnasts akin to Claudia Magalhaes and Marian Fernandes who had been amongst the oldest athletes within the sport, Tatiana was amongst the youngest. She was just one month previous her fifteenth birthday when she competed within the 1984 Olympics. This meant she was solely 14 when Figueiredo emerged as Brazil’s breakout star in 1983.

Not solely was Figueiredo an Olympian, she competed NCAA. When Tatiana was solely 14 years previous, she moved to america for 2 years to coach at an elite membership. Figueiredo loved her time in america and when she returned to Brazil had advised members of the Brazilian program that she was interested by competing NCAA.

Altair Prado

On the time, the College of Oklahoma had a Brazilian nationwide workforce member competing for its males’s faculty workforce by the identify of Carlo Sabino. It was due to Carlo Sabino that the coach of Oklahoma’s ladies’s workforce, Becky Buwick was made conscious that there was a global Olympian who might be lured to the NCAA.

This Brazilian connection gave Becky Buwick a head begin over different applications, however Oklahoma had yet one more trick up its sleeve. Coincidentally, one of many members of Staff USA’s 1985 World Championships workforce was Kelly Garrison, a future Oklahoma Sooner. Earlier than departing for the World Championships, Kelly Garrison’s faculty coach had given her a set of directions. Discover Tatiana Figueiredo on the World Championships and persuade her to return to Oklahoma.

Tatiana was recruited in November, arrived at Oklahoma in January, and by April was heading to the NCAA Nationwide championships. Within the span of 5 months Figueiredo went from a non-recruit, to an NCAA post-season qualifier. Figueiredo needed to transfer international locations and enroll in faculty whereas doing it. At one level, a Brazilian digital camera workforce adopted Tatiana for per week across the Oklahoma faculty campus to cowl her profession. This was all occurring whereas Tatiana Figueiredo was simply 17 years previous for the whole thing of her freshman season at Oklahoma.

At present, the Oklahoma Sooners are the reigning Nationwide Champions in ladies’s gymnastics and have received 4 of the final six NCAA titles. They’re unquestionably the dominant energy. However again within the mid-Nineteen Eighties, they couldn’t qualify a full workforce to the postseason. Tatiana Figueiredo could be Oklahoma’s solely NCAA postseason qualifier in 1986.

For Tatiana Figueiredo, her gymnastics legacy is contributing to not one, however two completely different applications who acquired their begin as underdogs solely to rise right into a formidable energy in later years. But, Tatiana Figueiredo is essentially forgotten. It is because she represented what on the time was an obscure WAG program on the elite degree and an obscure faculty workforce.

Altair Prado

I polled my Twitter followers on whether or not they had been conscious that Brazil as soon as had an Olympic NCAA gymnast all the best way again within the Nineteen Eighties. Just one respondent mentioned they had been beforehand conscious of this story, and that respondent was Brazilian. It’s not their fault that gymnastics followers are oblivious to this story. Figueiredo shouldn’t be listed below the Olympians part within the Wikipedia web page of Oklahoma ladies’s gymnastics. She isn’t even listed within the Olympians part of Oklahoma’s official web site. Neither Figueiredo’s Wikipedia web page nor her official Olympic web page make any point out of an NCAA profession.

Figueiredo competed on the 1987 World Championships and she or he as soon as once more would have been the highest scorer of the Brazilian WAG program, if not for a newcomer to the workforce. In 1983 a younger 14 12 months previous Tatiana Figueiredo usurped the established veteran Altair Prado. In 1987 a younger 14 12 months previous would do to Tatiana Figueiredo what Tatiana Figueiredo did to Altair Prado.

Her identify was Luisa Parente Ribeiro.

Luisa would make her first Olympic look at simply 15 years in age. She certified to the All-Round the place she completed thirty fifth. It continued the development of Brazil going three consecutive appearances in an Olympic All-Round Finals. However Luisa could be Brazil’s first WAG to qualify to an Olympic All-Round Finals in non-boycotted competitors. Then in 1992 she grew to become Brazil’s first 2x Olympian in WAG. On the 1993 College Video games she completed forward of such legends like Natalia Kalinina and Hope Spivey. Giving Brazil a few of its greatest outcomes so far.

Luisa Parente Ribeiro


Brazilian WAG has a storied historical past, but additionally one that’s somewhat distinctive. Ever for the reason that early Sixties Brazil had a mindset of maximizing its participation in main occasions and by no means backing down from that aim. When struggling applications or the “backside feeders” compete in WAG, they often disappear. Generally for a couple of years, different instances completely.

Their governments lose religion in this system when it suffers from poor outcomes and divert funding to different sports activities. They merely hand over. Sponsors pull their assist and fan curiosity dwindles. Coaches get pissed off and sometimes mismanage their groups to the purpose of overtraining gymnasts. One frequent tactic, they abandon the gymnasts who misplaced in favor of a special set of athletes who find yourself being much less succesful than the workforce that existed earlier than.

Through the Chilly Conflict it was all the time thought that Cuba and Mexico could be the dominant powers of Latin American WAG, and Brazil had no viable pathway to ever usurping them. However at the moment it’s now Brazil who dominates the area, and has reached a pinnacle of success that was as soon as thought unattainable for any Latin American WAG program.

Altair Prado subsequent to an image of Rebeca Andrade

Each Mexico and Cuba squandered their favorable positions as a result of they had been led by directors who made the choice to not give WAG full and unconditional assist. It was determined that the assist of Cuban and Mexican WAGs was contingent on their capacity to win. Their attendance at key occasions grew to become depending on the chance that they might produce a good end result.

Brazil was completely different.

Brazilian WAG made the choice that they had been going to compete and preserve competing it doesn’t matter what. They despatched a full workforce on almost each event it was potential. In cases the place it wasn’t potential to ship a full workforce, they despatched people as an alternative. When large competitions grew to become out there to them, Brazil jumped on these alternatives with out hesitation. After which they jumped on the alternative to attend small competitions as effectively.

Within the fashionable period of the World Championships, (1978-present) Brazil despatched a full workforce to the World Championships on all however two events. Brazil has had a close to continuous presence on the World Championships since 1966. It will be disrespectful to all these delegations to say that it was a choose variety of people who made Rebeca Andrade’s profession potential, and never a large group effort.

Luisa Parente Ribeiro wasn’t a lot the primary of one thing new, however the final of Brazil’s nice Chilly Conflict period technology. Brazil’s twenty first century success was earned on the backs of Chilly Conflict period gymnasts who by no means stopped making an attempt. It could have taken a long time, however finally their persistency paid off.

With every technology Brazilian WAG acquired a little bit bit higher. Every technology of gymnasts having to abdomen the losses and ignore the snide feedback over their performances. However each time they competed Brazilian gymnasts walked away with their heads held excessive understanding the progress they had been making. Brazil didn’t aspire to win medals again then, they merely aspired to compete. Greater than every other shedding program, Brazil saved competing regardless of the losses. It continued till in the future they finally discovered a successful program.

Brazilian gymnastics by no means gave up on its dream.



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