On the road to Rio?When Brazil qualified a full team to the Olympic Games at the London 2012 Test Event in January I was absolutely delighted. There were so many Brazilian gymnasts that I wanted to see perform at the Games I was thrilled that they would all get to be there, rather than just having one representative. But it was after this delight that the surprises began and unfortunately they were not good ones.
Jade Barbosa is by far my favourite Brazilian gymnast. We have been treated to her lovely gymnastics for many years now. Since 2007 she has been competing for Brazil and winning medals. Well known for her excellent vaulting, she is beautiful to watch on all four apparatus. I was so excited that we would get to see her in London - or so I thought. Back in July there was a dispute between Jade and the Brazilian National Team about sponsorship and the team uniform. Jade initially refused to sign the form saying that she would wear the team uniform as it clashed with her sponsorship obligations. When she backed down and agreed to wear the uniform, despite risking her sponsorship, she was told it was too late and she would no longer be considered for the team. Did Brazil make a mistake? In my opinion, yes. Jade Barbosa is one of their top all around gymnasts and could have contributed significantly to the team score as well as challenging for an individual medal on vault.
Daiane dos Santos
Daiane is another Brazilian gymnast that I was really looking forward to seeing and thankfully she was chosen for the team. Now age 29 she has been competing for her country for over 13 years. She is a beautiful gymnast with real sparkle and personality. She is best known for her floor work which is dynamic and full of character. These days she only competes on three apparatus rather than all around, focusing on floor, bars and vault. She gave steady performances on vault and bars, though she lacked in difficulty and occasionally in execution. Her floor though was a joy to watch but unfortunately it scored slightly too low for a place in the floor final, which I was really hoping she would manage and she definitely had a good chance of. It is such a shame that she did not make it to any of the finals as I would have loved to have seen much more of her in the London 2012 Olympics.
Out of all the Brazilian women who made it to the Olympics, Daniele is the one whose performances surprised me the most. Another veteran of the sport, at 27 she has been impressing us with her gymnastics for many years and was the other Brazilian gymnast I was really looking forward to watching this summer. Unfortunately the Games did not go according to plan for Daniele, failing to even make the all around final which I and many others were expecting her to do fairly easily. She started qualification with mistakes on floor and never really managed to put things right. She had another relatively low score on vault and none of the Brazilians scored well on bars. She did manage to finish with a good beam routine, but her score was not high enough to take her to the final and in the end she finished qualification in 37th place all around. That was definitely not what any of us expected.
The other three members of the team were much less well known than their team mates of Daiane dos Santos and Daniele Hypolito. There was also an injury just before the start of the Games meaning that an alternate had to step in at the last minute. The team finished 12th, in last place, and did not qualify to the team final. By this point that is one thing I was frankly not surprised about.
So where does that leave the Brazilian team as they head to Rio 2016, their home Games? Daniele Hypolito has already said she would like to compete in Rio and I am sure that Jade Barbosa would love to compete in 2016 if only to put this year behind her. I really hope that they work towards their home Games as they have some very exciting gymnasts and some great work. It would be lovely to see them shine in Rio in 2016.