Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB) executive director for sports Marcus Vinicius Freire is confident that the hosts will be able to enter the top 10 of the medal rankings in the upcoming Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
An important part of its plan to do so was unveiled last week with the official opening of the main training base for Brazilian athletes.
The base is located near the Army’s training centre in Rio’s neighbourhood of Urca, at the foot of the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain, reports Xinhua.
Hailing the advantages of this new facility, Freire, a silver medallist in volleyball in 1984, explained that the base would cater to a wide range of sports, including wrestling, taekwondo, sailing, beach volleyball, boxing, handball and archery, with athletes training here during the Games.
According to Freire, the Brazilian athletes will enjoy the most suitable condition for their training, as well as tranquility, allowing them to focus on preparing to the best of their ability.
The COB has other sites to help athletes, such as the Naval Academy, where shooters, synchronised swimmers and the national water polo team will train, the Hotel Porto Real, which has been put at the disposal of the judo squad, or a school near the Olympic Park for the volleyball teams.
These reserved spaces mean the Brazilian hosts will not have to share space with other teams, “which guarantees privacy and ensures there will be no spies among the competitors.”
According to the official, the COB has also put this in place as part of its attempt to climb into the top 10 finishers.
“The direct fight (for this place) is with Ukraine, Italy, South Korea, Hungary, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, Cuba and Azerbaijan, among others,” said Freire, adding that the top 8 are certain to be divided between the same teams as for the last 20 years.
Over the last seven years, since being awarded the Games in 2009, Brazil has been working tirelessly to increase its medal tally.
At London 2012, the country had its highest medal total ever, with 17 medals (3 gold, 5 silver, 9 bronze) helping it to reach 22nd place. However, Italy, which finished 10th in London, had 28 medals, making the difference achievable.
Freire accepts that the objective of the campaign, named “Time Brazil” (Time for Brazil), “is not easy but doable.”
One way of ensuring this progress has been to hire 40 foreign coaches for 23 different disciplines to work with national athletes.
“We have been very satisfied with the results. For example, in canoeing, Spain’s Jesus Mortan has taken Brazil to unprecedented titles,” said Freire.
He also added that Russian Alexander Alexandrov has helped the women’s artistic gymnastics team progress while Croatia’s Ratko Rudik has made Brazil’s water polo team one of the best in the world.
Finally, Freire explained that a group of psychologists is “constantly working” with the athletes, in order to “highlight the positives and minimise the negatives of competing at home.”