At the João Havelange Stadium, known as the “Engenhão”, home of the opening ceremony of the 5th Military World Games and track and field, there is a large banner that says “Friendship through sports”. The message highlights that, beyond the results, military athletes gather every four years to exchange experiences and get to know each other.
Most return home without medals, but have many stories to tell. That is the case of Luis Briones Molina of the Ecuadorian Navy, who competed for the first time in the Military World Games. Briones arrived in Brazil thinking that he could at least advance to the quarterfinals in boxing in the 68kg weight class. He ended up realizing that he needs to train harder.
“The level is very high. Much more than I imagined. I thought I would win, but I found a stronger opponent and lost,” said the Ecuadorian, who lost to the Moroccan Mehdi Khalsi. Briones began boxing in the Navy just three years ago. “I still have much to learn,” he says.
Corporal Cesar Bru, Venezuela, advanced to the third stage in the foil category in fencing. It was a good showing for a South American. However, this isn’t what Bru most celebrated. “We need to appreciate the opportunity to compete in Games that are as competitive as these are. It was a learning experience for me. I am satisfied with everything I did here,” he said.
Also in fencing, Sgt Joao Souza of Brazil praised the technical level of competition, and commented that he thinks he needs to have more exchanges with Europeans and Asians in order for his discipline to further develop in the continent.
“Athletes who participate in these events grow. The Military World Games are, without doubt, a very important event. And that’s how you grow, competing with the best athletes in the world,” he said.
Denzil Ramirez, of Trinidad and Tobago, was impressed with the structure found in Brazil. “This is wonderful. I feel fulfilled as an athlete,” said Ramirez, who finished 13th in the third semifinal heat of the 5,000-meter sprint.