“Don’t give up your dreams. Have determination and perseverance to go after your dreams.”
Brazilian swimming superstar Daniel Dias has vowed to add even more medals to his already huge collection at the upcoming World Championships in Montreal, Canada, this summer season.
The Brazilian, who picked up six gold medals and set four world records at London 2012, has already made his intentions clear by winning another four golds at the Spring Can-Ams in Minneapolis, USA, last month (April).
“We just got back from the USA and we are really training hard for the World Championship,” said Marcos Rojo, Dias coach. “We’ll try to win a medal in every event and maybe even set some records. He likes challenges.”
The road to Montreal
Dias is not changing his preparations ahead of Montreal for what will be the biggest gathering of international athletes since London 2012. The routine he followed for the Paralympic Games is clearly a recipe for success, propelling him into the sport hall of fame by winning 15 medals in Beijing and London combined.
“There were a lot of great moments, but London was amazing especially after the last event [100 m freestyle] when I made history,” said Dias.
“I usually read the bible every night and during competitions, and I don’t like superstition because it ends up influencing you.
“I train so hard for a competition that there is nothing that I don’t do before that will change my results.”
His upcoming schedule includes competing at the Germany Open later this month (May), as well as a training camp at altitude, followed by a longer trip to Montreal to train before the big event.
He also thinks that the support of fans from home will make a difference to his training and performance.
“Paralympic sports are more recognized and growing mostly because of the results athletes achieve,” he said. “In Braganca Paulista where I train, people are always congratulating me and it is really nice.”
Despite some personal challenges just before and during London, Dias was on top form. Even losing coach Rojo for a month did not seem to impact his performance.
“I lost my grandmother and my mother had two surgeries, so I thought she wouldn’t be able to come see me competing”, Dias remembers, “and I also had no coach for a month because of a surgery too, so when the medals came, all of this was worth going through.”
There are no such distractions for Dias going into Montreal, which will surely make him even more formidable.
Remembering the days before Dias’ first competition success in 2006 in South Africa, coach Rojo recalls the first time he saw Dias swim.
“When he got to my team, I asked him what he knew. He went into the water and did ok”, recalled Rojo. “It was raw talent that we just polished.”
Dias himself says that when he first took up swimming, it took only two months to learn all the four swimming styles by taking eight classes.
“In the water, I found my gift, the one God gave me,” said Dias. “I was able to show myself and others that we are all the same.”
The future of swimming
Dias has become one of the biggest sports stars in Brazil and appears on national television encouraging involvement in Paralympic sports.
The two-time Laureas Sports Award winner believes that success in the pool should also be used to inspire the next generation on dry land.
“Daniel is very determined in everything he does, he likes to swim and does it with a lot of focus,” said his coach. “As a person, he is everybody’s friend, he is happy and inspires everyone.”
“Don’t give up your dreams. Have determination and perseverance to go after your dreams,” Dias says to aspiring young swimmers.
Of his own journey on an already successful career, Dias recalls reflecting on learning to swim and his talent for the sport.
“I thought it was an usual thing and that everyone was learning at the same speed. I realized only after that things doesn’t happen like that,”
With less than 100 days to go until the IPC Swimming World Championships start in Montreal, sports fans could be about to witness Dias pull off yet another stunning performance in major competition.
At the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal, Daniel Dias will compete in the 50m Freestyle, 50m Backstroke, 50m Butterfly, 100m Freestyle, 100m Breaststroke, 200m Freestyle and 200m Individual Medley.