The return of the ‘Orange Boy of Judo’ in Santiago 2023
Date: November 20, 2023
The Brazilian judoka Thiego Marques da Silva is the new American champion of J1/J2 -60 kg, a title conquered in the Para Pan American Games – Santiago 2023.
This victory can be the return of the ‘Orange Boy’ of Judo, as he calls himself, as written in his Instagram bio!
In the Paralympic ranking, before Santiago 2023, Thiego was out of qualification for Paris 2024, something that he is not used to. “This is the gold of resilience for me. Last year, I was the leader of the ranking, and I was on the podium of every international competition where I competed. This year has been different, and I dropped some positions in the list”, started.
So, what happened to the star leader of the ranking to be in the shadow in the year before the next Paralympic Games?
“Many different things happened, actually. There are new opponents, much more travels on the calendar, and new categories to adapt to, but I believe that this is the life of a Paralympic athlete. We have to show every day that we can do the same things and always be resilient. This competition came to show me that I really can reach the top. It gave me a lot of confidence and even more desire to be in Paris next year. Paris is waiting for me!”
On the way to the final, Thiego started to eliminate Ronald Hawthorne (USA) by ippon, the same opponent that he also eliminated in the Para Pan American Games – Lima 2019. The next opponent was Henry Borges (Uruguay), won by wasari, to meet in the final his friend and colleague in the Brazilian Judo national team, Elielton Lira. It was great to see that both coaches were silent during the fight, not giving any instructions.
“Too much patriotism, I guess [laugh]. They only informed us about the time on the clock! This competition was incredible and crazy in so many ways. It was very similar to what happened in Lima in 2019. The same opponents, only with different results. I lost to Henry [Borges, from Uruguay] and played for the bronze medal I got. This final was very special. I played it with a good friend; we have the same training sessions every day in the same academy and on the national team. Both coaches of this final love us equally, which is why they stayed silent”.
A very special inspiration
on the stands
Thiego started to play Judo in 2011, when he was 12 years old. Two years later, in 2013, he won the silver medal at the Youth World Championships in the United States of America. It was the beginning of a fantastic sports journey that reached the silver medal in the last edition of the World Championships in Baku, with some gold medals on the way too.
Nevertheless, his mother, Claudia, never attended one of her son’s competitions. Thiego is originally from Parauapebas, a city in the state of Pará, the most northern state of Brazil, bordering the country with Suriname. But this time was different.
“She travelled more than four thousand kilometres just to see, and I believe that she gave me luck. It meant a lot to me to have her presence, which means that I have to take her to Paris with me for the Paralympic Games. She told me that she cried all the way to Santiago, cried during all the three fights, and for sure in the podium ceremony, listening to our national anthem playing, just because of my victory. She is the warrior!”