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Robson Conceição at the World Amateur Championships in Astana © AIBA PRO BOXING / Flickr
Robson Conceição at the World Amateur Championships in Astana © AIBA PRO BOXING / Flickr
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The Brazilian Athletes Set To Light Up The Rio Olympics

Picture of Luke Bradshaw
Sports Editor
Updated: 21 November 2016
There are few better moments an athlete can experience than a home Olympics. Here are some of the local competitors who could be set for hero status in Rio.

Marcus Vinicius D’Almeida – Archery

The young archer is a serious medal contender in his country’s home games. Two years ago, aged just 16, D’Almeida announced himself as a genuine prospect with a number of eye-catching performances. He finished 2nd in the Archery World Cup final, picked up a silver medal at the Youth Olympic Games (where he was Brazil’s flag-bearer) and won three golds at the South American Games. His success at such a young age has caught the attention of home fans, earning him the nickname of ‘the Neymar of Archery’.

Marcus Vinicius D’Almeida in competition.
Marcus Vinicius D’Almeida in competition. | © youtube

Matheus Santana – Swimming

Just like D’Almeida, 2014 was the year this freestyle sprinter began to make an impression in his sport. At the Brazilian Swimming Championships Santana broke his own junior world record in the 100-metre freestyle, before earning a spot at the Youth Olympic Games later that year. There he picked up a silver medal in the 50m and 4x100m relay and then gold in 100m, breaking the junior world record for the fourth time in the process. Expect the 20-year-old to feature heavily across multiple events.

Matheus Santana pre-race © math_santana / instagram
Matheus Santana pre-race | © math_santana / instagram

Gabriel Jesus – Football

Incredibly, neither Brazil’s men’s or women’s football teams have won gold at the Olympics. Hosting the games, and given the disastrous exit from their World Cup at the hands of Germany in 2014, gold is a serious target. Attacking midfielder Gabriel Jesus is the latest player in the country’s conveyor belt of talent. The Palmeiras forward – and new Manchester City signing – was voted best newcomer in the Brazilian league in 2015 and possesses good hold-up play and strength, despite his slight frame. In a football-obsessed country, the 19-year-old could announce himself on the international stage this summer.

Gabriel Jesus warming up for Palmeiras © commons.wikimedia.org
Gabriel Jesus warming up for Palmeiras | © commons.wikimedia.org

Flávia Saraiva – Gymnastics

Still only 16, Saraiva is a Rio native who has spent the first part of 2016 picking up a number of gold medals on the gymnastic World Cup circuit, to add to those won at the Youth Olympics in 2014 and the Pan Am Games the next year. Although she has competed in the floor, uneven bars and all-around exercises, the balance beam is her major strength and offers her the best chance at gold. At 4ft 4in (1.33m), Saraiva is the shortest member in the Brazilian Olympic team.

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 13.28.51
Flávia Saraiva competing on the balance beam | © flavialopessaraiva/instagram

Robson Conceição – Boxing

Conceição returns for his third Olympic Games, having fought in Beijing in 2008 and London four years later, but Rio represents his best chance of a medal so far. Fighting at lightweight, the 27-year-old relies on his tight defensive work and ring-craft, but is capable of thunderous punching power once he opens up. Since London 2012 he has won medals at the last two World Amateur Championships, with silver in 2013 and bronze last year. His amateur career thus far ensures a healthy fan base, so expect it to go wild in the Riocentro Pavilion 6 when he takes to the ring.

Robson Conceição at the World Amateur Championships in Astana © AIBA PRO BOXING / Flickr
Robson Conceição at the 2016 World Amateur Championships in Astana | © AIBA PRO BOXING / Flickr