Matthew Pinsent travels to Rio - host city of the 2016 Olympics - to meet young athletes hoping to compete there, and at London 2012.
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Olympic dreams. Matthew Pinsent travels to Brazil to find out how
athletes there are gearing up for the London Olympics and the real
When you think about sport in Brazil, there is one image that
springs to mind. These guys might explain why they have produced so
many fantastic footballers over the years, but sport here is more than
this. Rio will host the Olympic Games in 2016. I have come here to
find out just how sport fits into this amazing country - beyond the
beautiful game. This programme will take me from the beachfront at
Ipanema to the backstreets. If you don't train for sport, you will get
knocked out. Life is like that. will meet for young men hoping that
rugby is the next thing here. thought it was just for girls. But
then I picked up the ball, started to run and play properly. And a
young boxer whose life changed forever when his father was gunned
down and killed. I really miss him. Being able to share my success with
him. And the mayor tells me the IOC were right to put their faith in
Brazil. The Olympics is about change. It is about changing each
city. Come to Rio. It is 6am at this rowing club.
Still half asleep, it is a daily routine for rowers all over the
world. One thing I definitely do not miss is these early mornings.
Before the blistering summer heat makes any strenuous activity a
chore, these rowers are putting in the hours. Month after month. It is
a tradition that goes back over a century. And maybe the best is yet
to come. In 2016, this lagoon will host the rowing and kayaking in the
Summer Olympics. It is hard to imagine a more spectacular setting
for competition. And this lake is at the heart of a city that lives
and breathes sport and the outdoor life.
MUSIC. The body beautiful is an obsession
in Rio. Any free time, you will find the people of the city trying
to push that little bit more out of themselves. The next few years are
huge for Brazilian sport. The World Cup comes here in 2014. Two years
later, Rio will host the Olympic Games. And not just in sport.
Brazil today has a new confidence and sense of energy. Rio's downtown
is a testament to an economy that is starting to boom. They have
found oil off the coast here and by some measures Brazil has recently
overtaken the UK to become the sixth largest economy in the world.
There are rich pickings to be had. While the rest of the globe is in
recession, as far as they are concerned here, it is a matter of
crisis, what crisis? The world is different these days. It what you
guys are feeling up there, it is not messing up with us down here. A
few years ago, if you got the flu, we would have pneumonia here. Now
things are fine here. We're a country that is rising. The link
between economic and sport in success in Brazil was back to the
turn of the 19th-century. Today's generation of young rowers are
following in the footsteps of the moneyed elite who took to bowling
as a means of getting fit and impressing the young ladies. Over
the years, the club has expanded and taken on other sports. The
football team that grew out of this club have hosted some of the
world's greatest players. But its origins are in rowing and it all
began here. In this cafe, the rowers who formed this club first
met. Today, it is probably more famous for its beef steaks. But it
is a welcome break from the heat of the day for one world-class athlete.
I rode against her husband in two World Championships. She is quietly
confident that people will see a different side to Brazil during the
Olympics and the rest of the world will realise that there is more to
sport than just football. Football is the flagship of Brazilian sport.
A lot of people come here to learn football. Brazilian players are
exported to other countries. But people forget there are many, many
people practising all sorts of other sports. There are many
talents in sports which sometimes are not acknowledged here in Brazil.
It is hard to get financial support because of this. People only want
to invest in football. MUSIC.
If Olympic sport in Brazil is to get more investment, it is going to
need more people like Sarah. She is from a remote province on the
fringes of the rainforest. At just 22, she is one of the country's
best hopes for a medal at 2012. Maybe because she chose a sport
which was less mainstream and not seen as a sport for girls, it was
not easy. -- getting started was not easy. Her parents did not
approve. At first, I would go to judo at school, do my homework real
quick so my mum didn't suspect anything. But when I got better I
needed a bus fare to get to practice. She got suspicious.
the family is fully behind her and the success she has had judo has
given her the discipline to do well at her studies as well. Even so,
she still has one major hurdle to overcome. Myself. I am my main
obstacle to winning right now. I need to overcome my nerves more.
Technically, I am there. I just have to win the fight inside my
head. This is part of Rio not many visitors sprawl into. For years,
they have been linked to violence and crime. Like in London, the test
will be what is left once the Olympics are over. There are more
than 6 million people in Rio and it is how they benefit from the games
that will be the ultimate measure of success. This new cable-car is
getting people around more quickly. But will the legacy deliver in a
way that makes a real difference? The mayor is confident it will.
There is the gathering of this 15 days for everyone to get together
to party. Rio is very used to that. The greatest change will be the
legacy for the poorest people of the city. We know this will be a
much better place to live and work. It will be more gentle to its
people. This man -- the mayor also knows that the international
community is taking a gamble in choosing Rio de Janeiro over the
other candidates for the Games in 2016. He pull thought that hour
weakness would be some of the problems that the city has. Would
we use that as an asset. Chicago is a great city, as is Madrid. I am
half Spanish. Torquil. But these guys have got everything. That is
what we told the IOC member has. -- Tokyo in Japan. If the Olympics is
about legacy and change then look no further than Rio de Janeiro off.
It will certainly be a party here. This is a city that knows how to
have a good time. The City is obviously proud of the things that
make it famous. Partying, beaches and beautiful people. But the
organisers you want the Games to make a difference in people's lives.
One of the aims of the Olympic movement is to bring sport and
different types of sport to people who may not normally get to
participate. This left might look pretty insignificant, but it is
part of a major project year to clear up many of the poorer parts
of the city. Before the left was finished in 2010, the only way up
from the bottom was all the way on these stairs. It is still a bit of
a climb when you get to the top here, but I am told the family I am
about to meet will make the climb worth it. These brothers have a
surname which means passion in Portuguese. They discovered that
sport is not all about the round ball. Rugby makes its Olympic debut
when the Games come here in 2016. These boys are hoping they will be
on the pitch. The eldest brother first discovered the game on the
The first time I saw rugby ice up I thought it was just for girls. But
then by started to play and I realised it was something different.
And all four brothers soon got a field -- a feel for the game.
Marcos plays for Brazil at international level and became the
first member of his family ever to leave the country. Rugby is now in
his blood. TRANSLATION: What does it mean to me? It has changed my
life. Who knows, maybe one day I could play in a professional team
and grow beyond that. Nobody wants to stay at the bottom. If you grow
in sport, everything will be all When he is not playing rugby or
building a home for his new wife, Max looks to hit the waves. A
certain -- surfing school has been opened for for they let kids and a
new rugby school is on the way. -- for favelas kids. I like feeling
the the thrill of riding on the wave, standing upon the board. I
began writing on a body board and then I thought, I have to change us,
I have to stand up. So I stood upon the board and then I went to serve
school. It is a great feeling gliding over the waves. It is great.
Things are not always easy here. Drug crime and violence has been
synonymous with the favelas for years now. There are some 26
murders for every 100,000 people in Rio. A while back, a couple of my
cousins who were drug traffickers were killed. I used to have are
thought to my head that I wanted revenge. At least I thought about
it. But then I started surfing and jujitsu. Then I found rugby. I have
changed completely. I think sport leads people to do good things and
not bad things. And things are beginning to change. Slowly, the
police are moving in to push the drug lords out. At the end of the
day, these boys and many like them in the favelas of Rio are loving
life. And it shows. Can you see your house from here?
When I came to Brazil, I did not want to go anywhere near the
favelas but when you are standing here, you think those white sand
beaches and the red umbrellas are a bit fake. This is the real Rio. The
reality of how sport can make a difference here is in this man's
story. Meet Roberto Custodio. At 23, he has won the Brazilian
championship at welterweight. He is in with a shout of a place at the
London Olympics. He lives where the drug lords still operate but he is
one of the lucky ones. TRANSLATION: There is a lot of violence here.
You wake up in the morning and don't know if you will make it back
batty evening. U Thant God every day if you stay alive because you
can stay at 10 -- you thank God every day. NEWLINE the middle of a
gunfight, the police come in and you are in the wrong place at the
wrong time. I have had friends that died like that. If you live in the
favelas, you're just a statistic. The fight for peace Jim was set up
by a British boxer in 2000. His aim is straight forward. We are here to
run a successful boxing club and give kids satisfaction and training
courses. They have to do the hard work. We do not do that. What we do
is provide a structure. That is the premise for fight for peace. If you
do not train, you get beaten. It is the same in any sport but it is
particularly true in boxing because it hurts. If you do not trained for
sport, you will get punched a lot and knocked out. Life is like that.
Roberto has lived his life on the edge between the success he is
seeing today and tragedy. When he was 13, his father fell out with
the local drug dealers who control so much of life here. He fled but
came back to visit and was executed. He was not an addict. He was just
walking, a bus driver. I never thought I would lose my father that
way. If people do wrong things, you sort of expect it. They either get
arrested or killed. It is so difficult, I really miss him, being
The people here believe firmly that if you show young people like
Roberto an alternative to a life of crime and provide them with an
education, it will reap benefits. Already, people here are feeling
the effects of other favelas are being cleared of drug lords. Guns
have been disappearing from the streets over the last few months.
Something is changing. There is so much in the community which we
should be proud of. Rather than put balls up in front of or say that
you have to keep that over there, it is not part of our city, now
because of the community policing programme, favelas are more
accessible to people. They are learning that these are not
terrible enclaves of violent people. 99 % of people who live here are
hard-working individuals just trying to get by. Moments to
remember. Life is changing for Roberto. Settling into a new home
with his young family and dreaming of a place in the Olympics. My wife
and daughter give me strength. My whole family do. When I am up there
I think of everyone. Sometimes it is hard to get to a certain level
when you come from a place like this but I think, they did this for
myself. No one did this for me. It makes me so proud.
I have been in Rio now for five days and everywhere you go, you are
struck with this idea that Brazilians do things differently,
whether it is housing, whether it is parting, whether it is sport
like this, a mixture of football and volleyball. I finished my
Olympic career in 2004 and I loved each of my Olympic experiences.
People said I would miss it. Even in London, for the Games of 2012,
my home city, I will have no problem watching other athletes,
other British athletes compete and win. I know when I come to Rio, I
It is late in the evening and the remains of another's day of fun in
the sun are being cleared away. Still time for the boys of Rio
Rugby to have another kickabout. For the Maixao brothers, it is a
chance to hone those passing skills and enjoy the last hours of the day
with their friends. Beach rugby will not figure in the official
programme for Rio 2016 but when you finish watching the 7th on the
pitch, I am sure you will find day day -- a game here on the sand. It
is rear's way of saying hey, it is our style, these Olympics will be
Matthew Pinsent travels to Rio - host city of the 2016 Olympics - to meet young athletes hoping to compete there, and at London 2012.
He meets a young man who's father's death at the hands of drug lords spurred him to take up boxing.
Four brothers tell of their dreams of playing rugby at the Rio Olympics.
And a young judo fighter from the north of Brazil explains why it's not always best to listen to mum.