Vinicius Rodrigues ready to make dream come true

Brazilian world record holder targets first major titles this year 02 May 2019
male Para athlete Vinicius Rodrigues beats his chest and screams in celebration

Vinicius Rodrigues is targeting Parapan and world titles after breaking the men's 100m T63 world record

By World Para Athletics

“Last year I ran a sub-12 second time and I was the only one in the world to do so. Now it finally happened again and I proved it was not a fluke.”

Brazilian sprinter Vinicius Rodrigues has big ambitions. Ever since lying in a hospital bed, after a motorcycle accident in 2014 which resulted in the amputation of his left leg above the knee, winning major titles has been his dream.

“That's definitely a picture I can see framed on my wall,” he laughed.

“That's something I dreamed of when I was in the intensive care unit right after I lost my leg. I dreamed of that moment, with a packed stadium, with the Brazilian uniform on and my medal around my neck. It would be incredible.”

Making his mark

With both the Parapan American Games and the World Para Athletics World Championships taking place this year, as well as a new world record to his name set just days ago at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, that dream now has the potential to become a reality.

Last year the 24-year-old become the first 100m runner in his class (T63) to dip below the magical 12-second mark; he finished the year ranked number one in the world with a time off 11.99.

“It took me a while to realise what I accomplished in 2018. I want to repeat it in 2019 and beat my rivals, be a world champion,” he added.

Then last week he shaved a further 0.04 seconds off time, clocking 11.95 in Brazil.

"That was the first time I tried to come off the block in the standing position and I could see the change paying off,” he explained. “I got used to starting in the traditional way but we noticed I lost so much time because of my hip.

“The final part of the race wasn’t as good as I expected as well, so there’s room for improvement there. I needed this feeling of competition as it was the first real test of the year. Now it’s back to work because we’ve got to keep going towards our main goals.

“Last year I ran a sub-12 second time and I was the only one in the world to do so. Now it finally happened again and I proved it was not a fluke.”

Motivated by missing out

Rodrigues’ impressive form last year was in part a consequence of the fact he missed out on representing his country on home soil at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.

He explained: “I didn't make the team for Rio 2016 and the fact that I didn't take part in such a great event gave me extra fuel. So it was one of the motivations I had to train hard and achieve what I did last year.”

While Rodrigues’ determination and self-belief have been paramount in enabling to get him to where he is today, he knows those dreams he had in hospital were inspired by those around him, including Brazil’s three-time Paralympic champion Terezhina Guilhermina and Germany’s double Paralympic champion and fellow T63 Para athlete Heinrich Popow, who retired from the sport last year.

“In the hospital I got to know athletics because of a video Terezinha Guilhermina showed me. Now this sport has taken me abroad and has given me everything I have in life.

“Everything I have learned in life was through examples. I would say Terezinha was like a godmother to me. Heinrich, who helped me with blades, became a huge example to me.

“This is my first year of big meets and I will not rest until I achieve my dream of getting those medals. With hard work I will get there.”