Brazil Hosts Military World Beach Volleyball and Swimming Games
By Nelza Oliveira/Diálogo December 18, 2017Brazil played host to two military world games in Rio de Janeiro: the second Military World Beach Volleyball Championship (November 6th–13th) and the 49th Military World Swimming Championship (December 11th–15th). The Taekwondo Military World Championship will also take place in the country in 2018. The events—part of the International Military Sports Council (CISM, in French)—fall under Brazil’s ministries of Defense and Sports, via the Department of Military Sports. The championships’ goal is to encourage preparation of high performing military athletes for the 2019 Military World Games, and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
“Brazil is an outstanding member of the council and considered one of the greatest world military sports powers. The country aspires, with reason and merit, to be an Olympic power. The continuity of our program will certainly help the country in the pursuit of this dream,” said Brazilian Navy Vice Admiral Paulo Zuccaro, director of the Department of Military Sports of the Ministry of Defense. “The World Military Games currently include 41 sporting events, of which 34 are Olympic events. They intentionally precede the Olympics. The council deliberately holds the World Military Games one year before the Olympics to encourage different countries' to plan for this event,” Vice Adm. Zuccaro said.
Beach volleyball leaders
More than 50 athletes from Brazil and other countries participated in the second Military World Beach Volleyball Championship. Brazil dominated the podium, winning eight out of nine medals in both categories. In the men’s category, the duo comprising Brazilian Navy (MB, in Portuguese) Petty Officer Second Class Álvaro Filho and Brazilian Air Force Staff Sergeant Saymon Barbosa Santos, won the gold medal. Brazilian Army (EB, in Portuguese) Command Sergeant Major Gustavo “Guto” Albrecht Carvalhes and EB Command Sergeant Major Vitor Araújo Gonçalves Felipe took the silver. The bronze went to MB Petty Officer Second Class Evandro Gonçalves Júnior and MB Petty Officer Second Class André Loyola Stein. In the women’s category, MB Petty Officer Second Class Ágatha Bednarczuk and EB Command Sergeant Major Eduarda “Duda” Santos Lisboa won the gold, while EB Command Sergeant Major Larissa França Maestrini and EB Command Sergeant Major Ana Patrícia Silva Ramos took the silver.
Qualifying rounds were held at the Army's Physical Training Center in the southern zone of Rio de Janeiro, one of Brazil’s great sports training hubs, where athletes train for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The semifinals and finals took place at the Olympic Park in Barra to take advantage of the Olympic legacy of Rio 2016.
“This experience is very important for me because every tournament, every day that goes by, is a learning experience. To be part of the high performance team is very important,” said CSM Lisboa, of the gold-winning pair. “It’s an honor and a pleasure to be able to represent the [Armed] Forces and Brazil. For us, it’s a great pleasure,” said CSM Larissa, of the duo that took the silver medal.
At the closing ceremony, EB Colonel David Kabré, a CISM representative, congratulated the military athletes and spoke about the importance of friendship and overcoming cultural differences for peace. “At the beginning I thought there'd be a good level of competition. Now, at the end, I see that it was an excellent competition,” he said.
The CISM 49th Military World Swimming Championship in Rio de Janeiro brought together more than 300 foreign service members, including athletes and technical committees. In addition to Brazil, 11 countries participated.
The opening ceremony and competitions were held at the Air Force University at Campo dos Afonsos, in the western part of Rio de Janeiro. According to Vice Adm. Zuccaro, swimming has a strong military component in the competition and—similarly to the Military World Volleyball games—gathered the best Brazilian athletes.
“In swimming we have high-profile names, like Etiene Medeiros—by far the biggest name in Brazilian swimming—in addition to João Gomes Junior and Daiene Marçal Dias. The three just won the Fast Lane Challenge held in October. The recent event combined two men and two women in a very difficult race against a strong North American foursome that included Olympic medalists. The level was very high,” Vice Adm. Zuccaro said.
All athletes who participate in the military world championships are part of the High Performance Athletes Program (PAAR, in Portuguese), created in 2008. A year prior, the country hosted the 2011 Military World Games and won first place in a number of events. The objective of PAAR is to strengthen the Brazilian military team to participate in high-level national and international sporting events.
“At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Brazil won 19 medals, 13 of which were from military athletes who represented just 30 percent of the Brazilian delegation of 145 athletes. Our winning medal rate was practically five times greater than the national average. It took 50 athletes from the delegation to win an Olympic medal. Among the military, one in 11 won a medal,” said Vice Adm. Zuccaro. “So we have every indication that we must make great strides with our program, because it’s important for the country.”
Sports as a social alternative
According to Vice Adm. Zuccaro the Armed Forces have invested in young athletes for 14 years through the Armed Forces in Sports Program—the Ministry of Defense, in partnership with the ministries of Sport and Social and Agrarian Development developed the curriculum. Through sports, the program currently serves 23,000 youth and adolescents between 6 and 18 years old in vulnerable social situations throughout the country.
“The main objective of the program is social inclusion, but we also manage to discover talents. It’s one of the aspects most needed in Brazil: integration between fundamentals and high performance,” said Vice Adm. Zuccaro. “We are very satisfied and proud of these two programs,” he said. Taking advantage of the favorable turn of events, Brazil, said the Vice Adm., will present its candidacy to CISM to host the Military World Judo Games in 2018.