Brazil’s young track star Veronica Hipolito is determined to shine in front of her home crowds come September’s Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The 19-year-old first raced in to the spotlight in 2013 when she took 200m T38 gold at the World Championships in Lyon, France, beating a stellar field including Russia’s Margarita Goncharova and Great Britain’s Sophie Hahn.
After winning a stunning hat-trick of gold medals at last August’s Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games, Hipolito underwent surgery which meant she was unable to defend her world crown in Qatar. But the prospect of the 2016 Paralympic Games is helping to inspire her return to top form.
In the first of this year’s ‘Training Tuesday’ series, Hipolito talks us through a typical day as she prepares for the biggest stage of her para-athletics career to date.
I set my alarm clock for 06:00 but I don’t actually get up until 07:00 – I like to have the feeling that I am treating myself to some extra sleep so the alarm goes off at 06:00, then 06:30, 06:45 and finally at 07:00, when I wake up!
I live at home with my parents near Sao Paulo, and the first thing I do is go straight to the kitchen and I make a hot chocolate. I get some fruit or maybe some bread too which I will take to eat on the way to practice.
Before I leave the house I’ll organise all my things together – like my water, running shoes and a jacket – I don’t like to feel cold in the morning. I always make sure I say goodbye to my parents before I head out the door.
I get to the track at 07:50 – I drive there, it’s about 10 kilometres from my house. It’s just one long road to get there so it’s pretty straightforward. I just recently got a car, which is great – although a couple of weeks ago I hit a brick! I got my driver’s license a year ago. Here in Brazil we have a temporary license that you get when you first take the test, then it takes one year before you can get the permanent license – I just got mine a few weeks ago.
The first thing I do is pray - because I know I am going to have to work very hard! I warm up with some stretches. I have some routines which I got from the Michael Johnson Performance programme which I went on recently. After that I go to the gym and there I have a different routine from the other athletes as I am just coming back from surgery. I am in the process of getting back to where I was at before my operation.
Then it’s out to the track where I’ll do whatever routine my coach has set up for me. That normally lasts about 1.5 hours. It’s been a bit hard getting back to full fitness after my surgery, because you lose the routine and the pace. But I am aware of the expectations of the Brazilian people - especially this year - so I am working as hard as I can to get back in shape.
At the moment I am not running as much as I used to – I’ve been working instead on the technical side of things, and on balance and mobilisation – my movement and how I run. It’s important to fix this before I start running more.
After practice I might have lunch at the club, or sometimes I go back home for some food before my afternoon session. I usually have rice and some meat - I’m learning to eat more vegetables and salad, thanks to my boyfriend, as I didn’t used to like them so much! I’ll have a juice too – orange, or pineapple are my favourites.
My afternoon session takes place where the Brazilian team practice and I’ll visit the physio there to work on my balance and strength, especially in my legs.
When I get back home I’ll probably have another hot chocolate – I’m trying to cut down on that now though as I used to be completely addicted! In the evenings I like to sit down with my parents and talk about the day. Both my parents are history teachers so I’m always learning something, and I like to read.
My university studies are on hold right now. In a year where we are going to have the biggest competition ever right here in Brazil, it’s hard to reconcile both things. My parents always tell me to give 100 per cent to what I do, so if I went to University right now I wouldn’t be able to dedicate as much time to athletics as I need to. I plan to go back to school after the Games and study Economics.
I often speak to my boyfriend on the phone before I go to bed. He doesn’t live in the same city, so it is our chance to catch up on the day. Sometimes we can chat for an hour, but then it is time to sleep.
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs).
The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.