Brazil’s First Ever Double Olympic Gold Medallist | The Olympics On The Record

Brazil’s First Ever Double Olympic Gold Medallist | The Olympics On The Record

Brazilian success at the
Olympic Games has, in recent times, been focused on the team
events. Brazilian footballers. Brazilian volleyball players. Brazilian footballers. Brazilian volleyball players. This Brazilian volleyball team
in particular typify their nation’s
exuberance, skill and sophisticated
teamwork. They won back-to-back Olympic
gold medals in Beijing and London. For the last Brazilian athlete
to win consecutive gold medals, you have to go back to this
man. Adhemar Ferreira da Silva
from Brazil. Born into a poor family in Sao
Paulo in the 1920s, the son of a railway worker, he dreamed of representing his
home football team Sao Paulo, until a German athletics coach,
Dietrich Gerner, spotted his athletic talent
and pushed Da Silva towards the triple jump. Perhaps young Adhemar
was too much of an individual to be a team player, because
the triple jump is the perfect pursuit for the single-minded athlete. Sometimes called the hop,
skip and jump, the triple jump featured in the very first Olympic Games
in Athens. The combination of speed,
timing and strength is hard to co-ordinate – and easy to get wrong. The four stages of the triple
jump are all important. The approach is all about
speed. The hop must carry forward
the momentum. The skip sets up the final
stage – the jump, propelling yourself
as far forward as you can, both legs out in front of you
for the landing. It takes a certain kind of
athlete, capable of remarkable
fluency and poise. Aged just 20,
Da Silva represented Brazil at the 1948 Olympic Games in
London. The winner that year was
Arne Ahman of Sweden. Da Silva finished eighth. He
was still learning his craft. He learnt well. In 1950, he equalled the world
record with a jump of 16 metres, a mark that had stood since
1936. A year later, he won
the Pan-American championship and extended the world record
to 16.1 metres. An Olympic gold medal, however,
was his key target. And the 1952 Olympics in
Helsinki would see Da Silva dominate his event. Firstly, with a jump of 16.12
metres, a new world record. And then, in the fifth round,
where he bettered it again with a jump of 16.22 metres. He also passed 16 metres in two other rounds. Adhemar Ferreira da Silva
not only wins the hop, step and jump title, but breaks the world record
four times in a row. When the gold medal was
confirmed, Da Silva gave a lap of honour. An outstanding Olympic
champion, he receives the enthusiastic
tribute of the crowd. A talented linguist, he taught
himself Finnish before the games and he conversed with
the fans as he went around the stadium. There was no more popular
athlete in track and field. Ha-ha, Da Silva wins da gold,
ha-ha. You’ve been working on that one
for a while, haven’t you? Ha-ha, hoo-ha,
Da Silva wins da gold. Oh, that’s too good. Da Silva’s world record
was not to last and was beaten
the following year. Then came the 1956 Olympic
Games in Melbourne, and Da Silva was the undisputed
world number one. But he’d face a challenge
from an unlikely opponent – 25-year-old Icelander
Vilhjalmur Einarsson, in the second round of the final,
jumped nearly 18 inches further than he’d ever done before. A mighty jump of 16.26 metres. This meant the champion
had to dig deep. Defending champion,
29-year-old Ferreira da Silva. He appeared slightly rattled after the Icelander’s mighty
performance, and it wasn’t until
his last three jumps that Da Silva
showed his true greatness. Yes, 16.35 metres,
a new Olympic record and the gold medal to
Brazil’s Ferreira da Silva. And consolation for Einarsson, his silver was Iceland’s first ever Olympic track and
field medal. Iceland only had two
competitors at this games, and that they should win one
medal is certainly a good effort. Da Silva, an Olympic legend,
was the only Brazilian athlete to have won gold in two
consecutive Olympics until the 2012 games. There, the Brazilian women’s
volleyball squad defended their title. Adhemar da Silva died in 2001, an icon of Brazilian
and South American sport. Today, the Sao Paulo Football
Club still wears two gold stars on their shirts in tribute
to their greatest fan.

16 Replies to “Brazil’s First Ever Double Olympic Gold Medallist | The Olympics On The Record”

  1. The golden stars on SPFC shirts (and everywhere else) is not a tribute to just a fan. Adhemar Ferreira da Silva was an athlete of São Paulo FC when he won both gold medals.

  2. It was the Beijing 2008 Olympics that encouraged me to try a triple jump in high school once. Never got the hang of it!

  3. In Brazil nowadays if you ask anybody who this legend is, they will not know! It's a completely shame!
    All they do is talk about ayrton Senna.

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