The Gringo in Bahia – Olympic Glory

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Today, my profession is strictly football, but I have always liked and played many sports throughout my life. Apart from my participation in football, I played tennis and even took part in some swimming competitions during my youth. My past experience in various sports must be why I am greatly enjoying this year’s Olympic games in London.

I generally stop in front of the television to watch any sport, from beach volleyball to boxing. I can relate to the immense pressure all the athletes are under to perform and the consequences of even small mistakes.  The quality of the competitors is extremely impressive, especially when you take into account what each athlete went through at the national level to make it to the Olympic stage.

Danny Morais and Brazilian Olympic Starlet, Leandro Damião, during the 2012 Brasileirão

I know that their hard work and successes were achieved through dedication, hours of training and also great personal sacrifices.  I am always moved by the attitude and poise of the athletes, and I have great respect for each participant whether winning a medal or not.

In my opinion, Brazilian fans are often very critical and are extremely hard on the competitors, but personally as an athlete I know how difficult it is to perform under the pressure and the responsibility of representing one’s country.  Brazil expects too much from their young athletes and the pressure is only increasing daily as media attention continues to grow. Often players are judged too harshly for wrong moves or minor mistakes, especially in the Olympic events.  One small mistake on this huge stage can make athletes feel like all their hard work and their lifetime training for the “big moment” is a failure.  But most would consider, myself included, competing in the Olympics is a rare and great accomplishment in Life.

It is ironic that an Olympic gold medal has continued to elude Brazil in the sport which we are famous for excelling in, football.  Especially when you consider, Brazil has won the World Cup final five times.

Personally, I know well the quality of this year’s Brazilian Olympic Men’s soccer team and I have great hope that they can bring home a gold medal.  The head coach of this year’s team is Mano Menezes, who was my coach in the youth system of SC Internacional.  During my time at Internacional, I also played with current Olympians: Juan, Sandro, Leandro Damiao and Alexandre Pato. Additionally, I played several times in the Brazilian championship against Neymar, Lucas (who was sold this week for $53 million dollars to Paris Saint-Germain), Ganso and Oscar.

With that being said, I’m looking forward to this Sunday’s final against Mexico and hoping this team can finally bring home the elusive Olympic gold medals to Brazil.

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