Brazil’s black Olympic national heroes!



Note from BW of Brazil: As it goes every four years, everyone knew that the United States would be the leader in gold as well as overall medals. Considering the country’s dominance in the Olympic Games, this was a no-brainer. Since the beginning of the Olympic competition, the United States has amassed more than 2,500 medals, more than 1,000 more medals than its closest competitor, the Soviet Union/Russia. As such, the heroics of the latest American superstars such as swimmer Simone Manuel or gymnast Simone Biles were to be expected from the Olympics most dominant country. It was also expected that Jamaican sensation Usain Bolt would leave all of his competitors in the dust. And even though the US earned in this most recent Olympic Games almost as many medals as Brazil has earned in its entire Olympic history (121 to 128), it would be an incredible disservice to ignore the achievements of Brazil’s medalists in this year’s Games. With a total of 19 medals, the Brazilians racked up the most medals in a single Olympics in its history! And considering the obstacles that many of these athletes experience in just attracting sponsors and the full support needed to a groom champions, their success must be celebrated! Below, we feature just a few of the Afro-Brazilians who brought home the coveted medals at home during Rio2016. 

Brazil’s black Olympic national heroes!

By Diego Cruz

Seleção Brasileira Masculina de Futebol vence a Alemanha nos pênaltis e leva o primeiro ouro olímpico
Gold-medal winning futebol team

Rio’s Olympics ended with the unprecedented gold in men’s futebol, won after a difficult campaign and a cast paid their weight in gold and treated to sponge cake by the sponsoring companies. But it is no exaggeration to say that these were the games of the women. The women’s (futebol) team, with Marta leading, held a beautiful campaign, dribbled around the sexism of commentators, the discredit and neglect by the CBF (Brazilian Federation of Futebol) itself and thrilled millions who cheered like there wasn’t much to cheer for.

Judo artist Rafaela Silva won Brazil’s first gold in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games

The judo artist Rafaela Silva, Brazil’s first gold at the Olympics, faced sexism and racism in her tortuous  route from the Cidade de Deus (community in Rio) to the highest rank of the podium. But the Minas Gerais native Maicon Siqueiro, forced to divide his time between bricklaying assistant and training, won the bronze in taekwondo. A trajectory that maintains a certain resemblance to the volleyball líbero, Serginho, a son of coffee farmers and resident of Pirituba, north of São Paulo.

Wallace, um dos melhores jogadores da campanha vitoriosa do vôlei brasileiro nos Jogos do Rio
Wallace, of the gold medal winning men’s volleybal team

Isaquias Queiroz, already the biggest name in canoeing in Brazil with three medals, was born in a poor family in Bahia. He faced years of neglect from the Federação Brasileira de Canoagem (Brazilian Canoe Federation) to the point of nearly dropping the sport. An origin also similar to that of countryman Robson Conceição, of Salvador (Bahia), a gold medalist in boxing.

Isaquias Queiroz comemora a medalha de prata nos 1.000 2
Isaquias Queiroz won three medals in Canoeing

Individual histories of force and resilience, as the press says? Much more than that. A small sample of potential that has the country if sport was really taken seriously.

Robson Conceição
Robson Conceição took the gold medal in boxing

To get an idea, the name that is at the head of the Ministry of Sports is the Leonardo Picciani, a member of the Picciani clan in Rio. Affiliated to the PMDB (political party), he was at the forefront in defending (suspended President Dilma) Rousseff in his party in the impeachment vote in the House, to disembarking from the sinking ship of the PT (Workers’ Party) and taking a post in the (interim President Michel) Temer government. This same physiological logic reproduces itself in states and municipalities where the sports secretariats are offices of exchange and the selling political favors.

Maicon Siqueira bronze taekwondo
Maicon Siqueira with his bronze medal in taekwondo

Whoever is dedicated to sport as a profession is bound to face a precarious life, begging for sponsorships to survive. Or the marketing program of the Armed Forces, which pays a salary of R$3,000 (per month) for sportspeople already established with the hope of seeing them give a salute on the podium.

Erlon De Souza Silva e Isaquias Queiroz comemora medalha de prata na canoagem
Erlon De Souza Silva and Isaquias Queiroz celebrate their silver medal in canoeing

The country does not have a public policy geared to the sport. Let alone a basic policy that encourages children, teen and potential athletes. It sounds hypocritical, as such, the COB’s (Comitê Olímpico do Brasil/Olympic Committee of Brazil) goal of making the country reach 10th place in the list of medals and ranks among the major powers.

Robson Conceição garantiu a quarta medalha do Brasil nos Jogos Olímpicos
Boxer Robson Conceição

But what did these Olympics have that was so special? Sport is representative of the many and complex human aspects. One is the resistance. Refusal to survive the injustices and certain conditions imposed. Among those who suffer most from the lack of public policies and the successive state courts, are blacks and women. It’s like this in health, in education, and thus also in sports. A privilege of few in such an unequal country. Blacks and women still face racism and sexism whose extremes are realized in femicide and the genocide of black youth.

Rafaela 2
Rafaela Silva

Thus, when Rafaela Silva, Isaquias, Robson Conceição, went up on the podium, or even when our futebol players shine on the field, they are, why not, practicing an act of resistance. Something the government, politicians, multinationals and the logic of the capitalist system could not prevent.

Thiago Braz 2
Thiago Braz took the gold in the pole vault

The country that dreams of being an Olympic power feeds itself on unlikely heroes

By Mariana Lajolo

Current cover of Istoé magazine celebrated “The National Heroes”. From top left, Rafaela Silva, Robson Conceição, Thiago Braz, Marta and Isaquias Queiroz

In the final stretch of the Olympics, Brazil got an unlikely hero. Maicon Siqueira, at age 18, worked as a bricklayer and waiter to help with the family’s bill. At 23, he became an Olympic medalist in taekwondo.

A quick look at our list of medalists in Rio’s Games, however, shows that his history is no exception.

Rafaela Silva, the girl from Cidade de Deus overcame adversity and prejudice to become the first champion of Brazil at the Olympics at home. Black, favelada (from the slums) and a woman, the face of the country, the face of those who, in general, are alienated from sport. She was a gold medalist in judo.

Robson Conceição, the boy from Bahia who tried the sport to be able to fight better on the street. If he hadn’t put on the gloves, we probably would never would have heard of the brief life history that he would star in. He won gold in boxing.

The young Isaquias Queiroz who used to play in the river that runs through the small, poor Bahian town of Ubaitaba. Who found in the canoe the chance to paddle to a new destination. He’s the only Brazilian to ascend the podium three times in a single edition of the Games.

They are beautiful stories, exceptions in society.

O jogador brasileiro Wallace durante partida contra a Itália, válida pela disputa da medalha de
Wallace of the gold-medal winning volleyball team in action

The country that dreams of being an Olympic power still feeds itself on these unlikely heroes. There aren’t the exceptions.

But to grow as a power, to transform the fact sport in fact into something impactful on society, we must work to change this reality.

Maicon Siqueira, no taekwondo. conquista uma medalha para o Brasil (2)
Maicon Siqueira took a medal for Brazil in taekwondo

Britain became in Rio, the first country to improve their performance in the next Olympics to that that it received at home. A gigantic feat with half the investment that Brazil made to try to reach the top 10 in this cycle.

How? One explanation is the living conditions. Athletes, in most cases, don’t have to worry about if they will have a place to train, if their parents will able to buy meat at the end of the month, if they’ll get shot while going to night school.

Ricardo Lucarelli de Souza, volei
Ricardo Lucarelli de Souza of the gold-medal winning men’s volleyball team

The discussion here is if it’s worth investing so much money to win medals if the majority of the population flirts with sedentary lifestyles and new idols don’t encourage children to let go of the tablet and the cell phone to practice sports.

It is another level of debate that Brazil should start doing, but doesn’t. Exhibiting medals is easier and brings more IBOPE (TV ratings) than discussing this structure. And for many, brings in more money.

The Brazilian delegation did not reach its goal of medals. Winning only two more than the London Games (2012) is a bad result. But even if the scenario were a party and Brazil would appear among the top ten in the world there would still be plenty to transform.

Source: PSTU, Blog do Gimenes

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.


  1. Many of this athlete came through the Federal Athlete training program of the Lula government. The media is ignoring this. Even in victory the media shows its racism.

  2. You see in this post the diversity of Black athletes in Brazil. In the USA Barack is a “pardo” and Michelle is a “preta” but they are all black and one family. In Brazil some idiot will argue and say that some of this athlete is not a black but a “mulatto”. This is foolishness. Pardo and Preto is all Black. Dark skin and light skin is one family of the black race.

    • So, pardos who are descedent of amerindian and white (cablocos), are also black? You guys always forget to mention that the most expressive population of North region is composed by cablocos.
      So, we cant say that all pardos are black, because in that way you are ignoring the existence of pardo of ameridian background. Example of famous cablocos are Patricia Poeta, Dira Paes and Marcos Palmeira.

      • “the most expressive population of North region is composed by cablocos.”

        Not the last time I checked,

    • Look at this jackass spreading propaganda. The thing about Brasilian culture is that the white people create all kinds of terms to create confusion and propaganda. If you go in a place like Maranhao and see these so called “cablocos” and “cafuzos” many of these people look black with Afro hair and brown skin. They just mix with the indigenous. If you study the true history of Brasil the first indigenous came from Africa and crossed the Atlantic Ocean and settled in Pedra Furada, Piauí. These people where black.

      Its funny how a white will always say that these people aren’t black but when they are ready to insult them, guess which words they will use.

      • Really??? As far as I know the ameridian people came from Asia, more specifically from Mogolia.
        And, did you check the avarege Dna Results from Pará, Amazônia, etc?
        They score about 23% of amerindian blood. Theyr afro blood is insignificant. If you saw other researches that say that they are predominantly afro, you can post in this forum. But, if you say that they are afro just because you want to believe in that, thats not my problem. I will not aegue with some ignorant people who only see the world in black and white

      • And just because you have met some peolple in Maranhão who are self declared cablocos and have kinky hair, does it mean that real cablocos does not exist? Just because you have never met one, does it shows that they are not numerous in some brazilains regions, like Amazonas?
        The DNA statics of Noth , otherwise, proves the contrary.

      • You are a white and dont know much about history. These DNA test result are a joke. In one test a group of pardos are 80% European and another test examining the same group puts them at 40% European. Then some whites in tests are only 70% European. How can whites be less white than pardos????? I have even seen a test that shows that blacks of bahia are more than 40% white!!!! Rsrsrsrsrsrsrs!!!!! We are talking about dark skinned blacks that look like Nigerians being 40% white????????? Kkkkkkkkkk!!!! These white people are liars.

        Many Black activist and scientists of The EUA have made reports on DNA and they will tell you that it cant be reliable. Even if it is a black man is black and racism comes from how you look. If a man is 99% European but has dark skin and Afro hair he will still experience racism and discrimination.

        Please take your propaganda away from here.

  3. One of the most moving stories is that of Isaquias Queiroz, who is missing one of his kidneys, giving him the nickname “Sem Rim” in Brazil.

    Yet he managed to win three medals, and he and Erlon de Souza he nearly won the gold, but the German team surged ahead in the race’s final meters.

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