In a shady corner, close to the entrance where a judo competition was taking place, Flávia Higino, 45, was waiting for the moment to watch her daughter, Rafaela, 11, fight. With her mother, bags with water, clothes, towel and lunch boxes. “Competitions are like that. You need to bring everything and always be prepared”, says the nutritionist, who was also accompanied by her eldest daughter, Beatriz Higino, 14.
In Paralympic judo since last year, Rafa, who was born with congenital glaucoma, explains that the sport has been an important tool in his life. “Each fight is a different experience. We learn that above all we have to respect our opponent”, says the judoka who won gold and bronze in recent championships.
In addition to the youngest daughter’s good performance, Flávia celebrates other achievements. “She developed. She gained more discipline, more agility. I realized that before she was more withdrawn and sport brought more freedom to my daughter.”
Student Meire Costa, 15, also has visual impairment and has been fighting for almost a year. She was also looking forward to the combat she would be participating in shortly. “Judo de-stresses me. Knocking someone down takes away any stress,” she jokes.
“I don’t charge for my daughter to be first, just for her to always do her best”, says salesman Cristiano Andrade, 43, who accompanied his daughter Ana Clara de Andrade, 15.
Ana also studies, goes to the gym and trains judo in two places. “Sport makes me feel lighter and makes me more focused. Sometimes I falter in the fight, but I always notice my progress. Win or lose, I learn”, says the young woman who also has visual impairment.
They all train at the CPB (Brazilian Paralympic Committee) and are federated by the São Paulo Futebol Clube, where they have the opportunity to fight with sighted athletes.
What for many would be a disadvantage, for them it is the chance to acquire more techniques. “They have the tricks to take me down, but fighting with psychics makes me pay even more attention”, says Ana Clara.
Judo is a sport that undergoes few adaptations in the Paralympics. The fight only begins with the grip made (the athletes hold the opponent’s kimono) and the referee warns when the athletes are far from the area.
“They end up leaving their comfort zone and exchange a lot of experience in these fights”, explains Ana Gomes, Paralympic judo coach. “Many of them arrive shy, then find themselves in the sport and become protagonists”, says the coach.
Rafa, Meire and Ana Clara participated in the 9th edition of the Nescau Sports League, which took place on the 16th and 17th of this month, in São Paulo. With the motto “Here Everybody Plays”, the free event offered 46 sports and is considered the biggest multi-sport championship in the country. The League brought together around 20 thousand people, 57% of which were female and 10% were people with disabilities.
“It was the largest number we have had to date, and confirming new records, both in registrations and participation, proves that we are on the right path. We are motivated to continue the democratization of sport, because the League is made for this”, points out Luana Carvalho , marketing manager at Nescau.
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