Paralympic Games
7-18 September

Rio 2016 ready to mark two years to go

On Sunday 7 September it will mark exactly two years to go until the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games 05 Sep 2014
A stunning view of Rio from Sugar Loaf Mountain

A stunning view of Rio from Sugar Loaf Mountain

ⒸGetty Images
By Rio 2016

To mark two years until the start of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games on Sunday (7 September), the city will celebrate Paralympic sport in style at one of its most beautiful locations.

From 8am to 11am, stars of Brazilian men's sitting volleyball and goalball teams will take part in a series of games at Flamengo Park, which will stage the cycling and marathon events during the Paralympic Games.

They will be joined by members of Brazilian volleyball’s seminal ‘Silver Generation’, who won the country’s first Olympic medal in the sport. The Olympic heroes will participate in a new experiment, playing the Brazilian sitting volleyball team, who were runners-up at the 2014 World Championships, in a sitting volleyball match.

Flamengo Park is a hugely popular leisure area for cariocas, as people from Rio are known, and this weekend they will be able to try out two sports which will form part of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. They will be invited to play friendly matches with the Brazilian goalball team, the current world champions and silver medallists at the London 2012 Games, and the sitting volleyball stars.

Renato Leite – one of the pioneers of sitting volleyball in Brazil, having been part of the Brazilian team since 2003 – believes that Sunday’s event can help grow the sport. “It is a privilege to be a part of this moment,” said the 2007 and 2011 Parapan-American champion, who plays as a setter. “Sitting volleyball is one of the newest Paralympic sports in Brazil and produces beautiful games for the public, who are always impressed by the agility of the players.

“Brazilian sitting volleyball is going through an exciting time, we have just won the silver medal at the World Championships, and taking part in this event is very important in creating more visibility for the sport. Paralympic sports in Brazil have been increasing year on year and I am sure that the Rio 2016 Games will improve the situation even further.”

The event will also include some special guests. Members of the ‘Silver Generation’ of Brazilian volleyball, Montanaro, Amauri, Fernandão, Badalhoca and Maracanã will face the Brazilian sitting volleyball team in a friendly match.

“This event is a very interesting initiative to celebrate this extremely important date,” said Montanaro. “At the same time as a generation which made history years ago is recognised, teams which represent Brazil so very well today will also be put into the spotlight. I’m sure the public will greatly enjoy the opportunity to become acquainted with these sports.

“I have already had contact with sitting volleyball in the club where I work and it is very difficult to play against them. We are not so young anymore, so it would be better to play on foot or we will run the risk of being hit by a lot of balls!”

The ‘Silver Generation’, which also includes William, Xandó, Renan, Bernardinho, Rui, Marcus Vinícius and Bernard (who will also be present on Sunday) and was coached by Bebeto de Freitas, made Brazilian Olympic history by winning the country’s first volleyball medal, silver at Los Angeles 1984.

The team were also central players in one of international volleyball’s most memorable occasions – the 1983 friendly match between Brazil and the Soviet Union at the Maracanã Stadium that was watched by more than 90,000 fans – which remains a record until today. Another mark left by the ‘Silver Generation’ was the ‘Star Trek’ service technique, created by Bernard.

Montanaro said being involved in Sunday’s event showed the team’s achievements were still recognised. “I was very honoured and flattered by the invitation,” he said. “Being remembered at a time like this shows that our generation has broken two givens in Brazilian sport. It is said that Brazilians have a short memory and that they only value champions. Thirty years later, it is wonderful to have this recognition after having won the silver medal.”

Brazil’s men won the goalball world title in July this year and their top scorer Leomon Moreno, who scored 51 goals, hopes that Sunday’s event will help further raise awareness about the sport.

“It is very important to be able to commemorate this milestone of two years until the Rio Games,” he said. “It will make us feel closer to the Games. And, for goalball, which is not a well-known sport, to have this space at a very important commemoration and an opportunity to present ourselves to more people is fantastic. It is a fun sport and people who get familiar with it normally like it a lot and start to follow it more closely. I hope that the public turn out and that they enjoy themselves, without being afraid of being hit by the ball!”

Sunday’s event will take place on one of the courts in Flamengo Park close to Rua Ferreira Viana, near Catete metro station. It will start at 8am, with a goalball match between two teams made up of players from the Brazilian team, as a way to present the sport to the public. Next, fans can enter the court and play, facing the Brazilian world champions. Sitting volleyball will begin its activities with a friendly match between the members of the Brazilian team and the volleyball ‘Silver Generation’. At the end of the game, the public will be invited to play with the world champions.

The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will take place between 7-16 September 2016.