Tokyo 2020: Da Silva driven to win Brazil’s fifth Paralympic gold
Date: August 15, 2021
Brazil are the four-time Paralympic football 5-a-side gold medallists and are 22 games unbeaten in all editions of the competition since the sport’s debut at Athens 2004.
Tiago Da Silva’s first appearance for the hugely successful national team was in 2013 and he takes great pride in representing his nation in the grandest of blind football competitions:
“Being part of this team is very satisfying. I feel happy because it has always been a dream to be in this group. But it also increases responsibility a lot. More and more, we have to challenge ourselves to continue to be in the best possible shape both off and on the court.”
Da Silva won gold with Brazil at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, in addition to the Toronto 2015 and Lima 2019 Parapan American Games, Madrid 2018 World Championships and Sao Paulo 2019 American Championships. Born with a high degree of myopia, the 26-year-old winger from Pinhais had a retinal detachment in the left eye at two years old and a retinal detachment in the right eye at five years old, subsequently becoming totally blind. He participated in numerous sports during his childhood but has not looked back since being exposed to blind football at 14-years-old.
“I got to know athletics, goalball, swimming and, later, football. I knew football 5-a-side through some friends at this [EJA] school for the blind. I was invited to join a team from Curitiba, where I was born. Since I had the first contact, it was immediate love, a huge happiness, and I knew that I wanted to become a professional [football 5-a-side] athlete.”
Having achieved his dream of winning gold on home turf in Rio 2016 at the youthful age of 20, Da Silva is prepared to seal his second and Brazil’s fifth successive gold medal.
“I aim to perform everything that I have been working on in the last few months for Tokyo 2020, and, with the team, to maintain our union, the concentration to do our best work and be able to fight for the title again. It is very important to bring another gold medal to Brazil.”
Since the beginning of this year, Brazil have conducted seven national team training camps at the Sao Paulo Paralympic Training Centre, with each camp lasting over ten days to enable Tiago and his teammates to be in optimal shape to defend their gold medal.
“Both individually and in the national team’s training, we are accompanied by an excellent staff. Physical trainer, physiologist, physiotherapist, nutritionist, everyone has a part in the development of our training, whether in the activities we do in the face-to-face training or at home. We have several goals to fulfil in relation to physical and technical aspects. The idea is for us to be in the best possible shape when it comes time to compete.”
Brazil is pooled in Group A with Japan, France, and China, playing their first match against Asian champions China on Sunday 29 August 2021. Although the reigning Paralympic champions are expected favourites to win, Da Silva acknowledges that each opponent pose a threat to Brazil claiming their fifth gold medal.
“I think all the teams are strong, and if they are in Tokyo, they have a chance to fight for the title. Of course, looking back over the last few years there are teams which we have played more often in decisive matches, such as Argentina and China. But there will be no easy game at Tokyo 2020, the level of competition will certainly be high.”
Heading into Tokyo 2020 with a 100 per cent record at the Paralympics, Da Silva and the following nine players have been selected to defend Brazil’s gold medal: Luan De Lacerda Gonçalves, Matheus Costa Bumussa, Cássio Lopes Dos Reis, Damião Robson De Souza Ramos, Gledson Da Paixão Barros, Jardiel Vieira Soares, Ricardinho Steinmetz Alves, Jeferson Da Conceição Gonçalves and Raimundo Nonato Alves Mendes.
By Keon Richardson | For IBSA