“I could visualise the venue. I’ll have it my mind for two years” – D’ALMEIDA on Rio
Sixteen-year-old Marcus D’Almeida has been garnering attention at home and abroad since becoming the youngest ever athlete to qualify for the Archery World Cup Final in 2014.
He came second at the Final, held in the Olympic Capital of Lausanne, losing the gold medal match on a single arrow shoot-off.
At the first archery event in the next Olympic venue last week, he won triple gold: Brazilian Champion in the individual, team and mixed team events. Most importantly, though, he got a chance to test the home Olympic venue he hopes to be competing in in just two years time.
Relaxed as ever, Marcus said this event didn’t feel too different: “right now, it’s just like any other… but a bit more wind.”
The Sambodromo has high stadium stands, like the London 2012 archery venue in Lord’s Cricket Ground and the Athens 2004 Panathinaiko – and that can make the wind conditions tricky, especially if the air starts to swirl.
“There was a lot of wind,” Marcus reiterated. “And it was very hot: 40 degrees or more for most of the event. But it was a great experience – and just gave me an understanding of how important it will be to practice in the conditions.”
Rio 2016 and Brazilian Olympic Committee President Carlos Nuzman and Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes opened the 40th Brazilian Archery Championships last Wednesday by shooting the first arrows of the competition.
Marcus coached the pair: “It was not easy, but I am not a good coach – yet – let’s see in the future!”
The attraction of top VIPs and being one of the first sports to hold an event in a temporary Olympic venue – a full two years out – meant plenty of media took the opportunity to visit the Sambodromo.
As well as interest from the press, the increasing number of archery athletes within Brazil made this national championships the biggest yet. There were 216 competitors.
The Sambodromo hosts the world-famous Rio carnival parades, performed by the city’s samba schools each year, and recently underwent renovations that expanded its capacity from 60,000 to 72,000 seats.
Last week’s competition took place on the back flat space beside the stadium, where the qualification and practice range will be situated during the Games. There, the head-to-head competition field will look quite different.
“I imagine it will be dressed as nicely as the archery venue at the Youth Olympic Games,” said Marcus, who was silver medallist in Nanjing after carrying the Brazilian flag at the opening ceremony. “Full of banners and the look of the Games. A nice flat ground and colourful decoration.”
“I could visualise the finals venue in the Sambodromo. I’ll have that image in my mind for the next two years. It’s going to look great.”
At Rio 2016, the Sambodromo will host the Olympic and Paralympic archery events and the finish line for the marathon.
World Archery Events Manager Chris Marsh, who is technical delegate for the Paralympic events after acting as competition manager in London, observed the national championships on an official inspection visit.
“This venue has a lot of potential,” said Chris. “The existing stands give a coliseum feeling that rightly puts all attention on the athletes. I’m delighted that archery’s Paralympic athletes will have that same experience as the athletes competing at the Olympics.”
There are only 92 weeks left until Games time…
For Marcus D’Almeida, that’s 92 weeks left for preparation, something that has begun with this first archery event in the Sambodromo.