No. 2: Fonteles shocks stadium over 200m victory

Brazil’s Alan Fonteles Oliveira produced one of the biggest upsets in Paralympic history, defeating sprinting great Oscar Pistorius in the 200m T44 in London. 31 Dec 2012
A picture of man celebrating his victory

Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira will defend his title in front of the Brazilian crowd during the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

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Without a doubt, Brazil’s Alan Fonteles Oliveira produced the biggest shock of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, and arguably the largest upset in Paralympic sport this year and perhaps even in the Movement’s history.

Everybody had Oscar Pistorius’ name on the tip of their tongues heading into the 200m T43/44 final at the Olympic Stadium on 2 September, so when Fonteles pushed past the South African in the final metres to win the race in a time of 21.45, the 80,000 fans in the stadium were stunned to silence.

In fact, it was more than that. If you listen carefully, you can hear a collective gasp of shock in the Olympic Stadium that night. Even Fonteles himself noticed it.

"When I crossed the line, the stadium went silent. After that I knew I had won," he said. "I still watch the final and get goosebumps. It was a unique moment in my life."

Pistorius, who received a rapturous ovation with thousands of flashbulbs at the starting blocks, looked like he had won the race after the first 100m, exploding off the bend well ahead of the field.

But then Fonteles accelerated along the home stretch, with a sensational final 50m, passing Pistorius in the closing stages to record one of the biggest upsets in memory.

"I knew I could run 21 seconds," said Fonteles. "Just the world didn't know."

"I accomplished my mission and the world was looking at me."

Pistorius, who had never lost a 200m T43/44 race in his career, wound up finishing second in 21.52, with USA’s Blake Leeper taking the bronze in a time of 22.46.

“Many people told me that Pistorius is beyond (beating), that he's from another planet,” Fonteles said after the race. “But I showed today that it's not this way, I can also do my best.

“It means a lot to me, it means breaking barriers, it means that nothing is impossible. It's what I always dreamed about, and today I'm entering into the history of the Paralympic Games.”

Nobody was more stunned than Pistorius, who questioned Fonteles' blade length after the race, accusations that were unsubstantiated.

As for Fonteles, it was his first gold medal in two Paralympic Games, and it put him on the world’s sporting map with the Paralympics coming to his home country four years from now.

In fact, the 20-year-old Laureus Award nominee has seen his popularity back in Brazil skyrocket since beating the most famous Paralympian on the planet, appearing in national and international newspapers, television broadcasts and publications.

“My life has changed a lot since London,” Fonteles said. “It’s good now to be recognised by the public, and to be recognised for creating a moment of joy for the Brazilian population. At the same time it gives me the greater will to pursue achievements in Rio.”

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