Rezende’s 4th-place finish at Brazil’s home Paralympics

15 September 2016
Rio de Janeiro (BRA)
38 year-old Luciano Rezende was the highest Brazilian men’s finisher at the Paralympic Games.

“It’s a very faint line between the satisfaction of finishing fourth and the disappointment of not getting a medal,” said Luciano, who lost to Iran’s Ebrahim Ranjbarkivaj in the bronze medal match, 7-1.

After winning his first three matches, Luciano said he felt his body had stopped reacting to his orders.

He first lost in the semis to Thailand’s Hanreuchai Netsiri in straight sets and then to Ranjbarkivaj in the bronze final.

“That was the hardest match,” he said. “I forced myself to the maximum and I tried the best I could but, at some point, my body didn’t react. I had a moment when I tried to adjust the sight and I asked my coach: ‘what can I do?’ and he said: ‘relax, enjoy, you have done the best you can and that’s what matters’.”

“I think that was the best thing I could have heard.”

For Rezende, a Brazilian lawyer who found in archery the chance to become a Paralympian, there’s no other word to describe the experience of these Rio Games than ‘pride’.

“I think that the best part of this experience is to be able to welcome all my foreign friends in Brazil to show that my country is capable to deliver good sporting events such the Olympics and Paralympics, but especially, to show the best side of the sport,” he said.

Born with meningocele, which means that his backbone and membranes around the spinal cord are not completely closed, Luciano trains three to four times per week when his work at Brazil’s Department of Justice allows him to.

At the Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada in 2015, he won gold – his best achievement in archery, the sport he found in 2009 after trying swimming in a school of physical education for people with impairment in Brasilia, the country’s capital.

Back then, he was 29 years old, which would mean he needed to be a late bloomer in the pool to make the Games. He tried archery, liked it – and said he also found himself.

“It helped me a lot because I started to train hard to be at the best level here today. I chose archery because I like the self-performance, to push myself and be good,” he said.

Luciano said there’s hope for the future if he keeps training as he has done so far. He highlights the crowd, his family and friends supporting him, but – especially – the legacy that the Rio Games will leave his country.

“Having the entire crowd on my side at each of my individual matches helped me a lot. I brought that crowd the closest I could to myself and to see that, to feel it, was great. If there’s something I can say to those who watched the Paralympics, to the kids, it is to believe in sports,” he said.

“Sport is incredible. It transforms people and brings out the best feeling within you.”

The para archery competition at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games runs 10-17 September in the Sambodromo.