Pereira: Brazil's 2016 Target "Absurd"
Mar 18, 2013 - Craig Lord
With Rio 2016 on the horizon and a silver medal from London 2012 in the bag from a 400m medley final in which Thiago Pereira finished ahead of a slow start for Michael Phelps (USA) at the swansong Games of the greatest Olympian all-time, you might have thought that Brazil would have pulled out the stops to make its next chapter the best of all.
Pereira knows differently and says that Brazil's aim of a top 10 medals finish at a home Games in 2016 is "absurd" unless there is an instant change in culture and support for Olympic sports at a time when all focus is on the 2014 World Cup (soccer).
He is days away from announcing that he has settled on either Pinheiros-SP or Sesi-SP as his next club in Brazil after months of polemics and strife, with months to go until world titles in Barcelona this summer.
Partly self-coached and his own manager and business consultant on the hunt for the right club and funding, Pereira rejected the idea of leaving for the US. He wanted to stay at home. Finally, he has found a new home but in an interview with reporter José Ricardo Leite of UOL Esporte, he says: "The deal is almost settled, I'll wait to make the announcement when everything is signed. My goal has always been to stay here [at home]. I want Albertinho [his coach] to continue to coach me.
"It was strange to leave London with a medal and knowing that Brazil would be next to host the Olympic Games ... while knowing that I was without a club to go home to."
He added: "It's not the way I wanted it to be. I've been training well but the situation has been constantly in my thoughts … I've had to attend meetings, make a deal with a club and keep my mind on training. It's been a bit disruptive."
Pereira vented his anger about the lack of incentives for Olympic sport in Brazil as the nation prepares for 2016. He described as "absurd" the COB's (Brazilian Olympic Committee) target of a top ten finish on the medals table at a home Games in the absence of the support that would be necessary to make that happen. He spoke against a backdrop of a fall in support from professional sports for Olympic sports in Brazil, Flamengo having recently folded its gymnastics wing.
"You should not expect that to happen right now," said Pereira. "It's absurd to even suggest that Brazil has a goal of a top then medals finish. The focus right now is all on the World Cup in 2014 (football)." He suggested that the two years remaining until a home Games after that would simply not leave enough time to "train athletes to win a lot of medals".
Next month brings Pereira's season into focus at world-title trials and nationals, the Maria Lenk Trophy, on the way to the Olympic silver medallist seeking a return to the podium at the big FINA showcase in Barcelona come July and August.