By Jayme Monsanto, Senior Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Last Sunday saw the closing ceremony of the first ever South American Beach Games and victory for the Brazilian contingent. The competition, supported by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), took place in Montevideo and Punta del Este, Uruguay, between December 3 and 13.
The ten disciplines were divided into four categories: Sand, (which comprised Beach Soccer, Beach Handball, Beach Rugby and Beach Volleyball), Water, (which gathered Surfing, Swimming, Water Ski and Sailing), Land-Water, (created to include Triathlon), and Exhibition, which was comprised of the various fitness competitions.
After eleven days of competition, Brazil finished top of the medal table with 25 in total (12 Gold, 6 Silver and 7 Bronze), followed by Argentina, with 22 (9 Golds, 5 Silver and 8 Bronze) and Venezuela, with 8 medals (2 Golds, 4 Silvers and 2 Bronze). Every single one of the fifteen South American countries took part in the event.
The event gathers Olympic disciplines (swimming, sailing, triathlon, beach volleyball) and others that haven’t yet been added to the Olympic schedule of which one is surfing, a popular contender for future inclusion.
“We adapted ourselves very well to the non-Olympic modalities, and I believe it has been a great experience for all of them to see how a Olympic Committee competition works. We tried to give them the best structure we could so that they could compete well.” , said Bernhard Rajzman, head of the Brazilian team at the South American Beach Games.
The young Brazilian surfing team put in a great performance in both individual and tag competitions, claiming three out of the four Golds disputed. Fifteen-year old Gabriel Medina who won the Air Show competition was Brazil’s biggest highlight, along with nineteen year-old Alejo Muniz, who won Gold.
“This competition was very important for Brazilian surfing. It wasn’t an individual competition, as it usually is in our discipline. We are proud of having helped Brazil in the ranking and we need to thank COB (Brazilian Olympics Committee) for the structure they gave us. It was fundamental for our performance, and should be taken as an example for our modality”, said Otoney Xavier, coach of the surfing team.
Team boss Rajzman also considered the campaign a great success. “We have brought to Uruguay a very young team, with talents that promise a lot in a near future”, he said. “We have completed our goal, which was the first place of the ranking, and also had a great chance to start creating a high level team aiming at the 2012 Olympics”, he said.
The next edition of the South American Beach Games will be held in Manta, Ecuador in 2011.