By Jayme Monsanto, Senior Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Swimmer Cesar Cielo and Judo fighter Sarah Menezes won the 2009 Brazil Olympic Award, a prize given by the Brazilian Olympics Committee (COB) to the best athletes of the year.
The award ceremony was held at the Maracanãzinho Arena (a 12,300-seat venue in the grounds of the Maracanã Stadium), and the athletes received the prize from the hands of President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva on December 21st.
The winners were selected via online voting at the Prêmio Brasil Olímpico 2009 website, with over 370,000 votes cast.
Running against Cesar Cielo and Sarah Menezes were gymnast Diego Hipolito and sailor Torben Grael in the male category, and swimmer Poliana Okimoto and taekwondo fighter Natália Falavigna in the female category.
Cesar won the male prize by an amazing margin, he had 77 percent of the votes. This is the second year in a row that the swimmer has won the Olympic Brazil Award. As 2008, 2009 was a great year for Cesar, as he broke the 50m and 100m freestyle world records.
“I want to thank everyone that voted for me. The award is a great reason to keep me motivated to claim new conquests in the road to London 2012. Until then, I would like to keep counting on your support.”, he said.
Sarah won the female prize with 46 percent of the votes, and dedicated her victory to her team. “Judo is the most cooperative individual sport there is. You train on a daily basis with your team, there are your coaches with you day by day. I want to thank everyone that was with me”, she said.
President Lula himself was also awarded a prize in that evening. He was given the Olympic Personality of the Year award, in recognition of his efforts and commitment to bringing the 2016 Olympics to Rio de Janeiro. “I thought I had already experienced every single emotion a human being could feel, but I could never imagine what I went through in Copenhagen. Our presentation was perfect and we showed that we are ready”, the President said.
Carlos Arthur Nuzman, head of COB handed the prize to Lula, along with Rio de Janeiro mayor Eduardo Paes, Governor Sérgio Cabral, and Minister of Sports, Orlando Silva.
It was the 11th edition of the Brazil Olympic Award, and each one of the 42 Olympic disciplines had individual elections of best athlete of 2009. Following is a list of the winners:
Arcehery – Brunna Hellen Araújo
Artistic Gymnastics – Diego Hypólito
Athletics (track and field) – Fabiana Murer
Badminton – Daniel Vasconcellos Paiola
Basketball – Anderson Varejão
Beach Volleyball – Harley Marques Silva
BMX – Renato Rezende
Boxing – Everton dos Santos Lopes
Canoe/Kayak Flatwater – Nivalter Santos de Jesus
Canoe/Kayak Slalom – Poliana Aparecida de Paula
Diving – César Castro
Eqüestrian Dressage – Luiza Novaes Tavares de Almeida
Eqüestrian Eventing – Serguei Fofanoff
Eqüestrian Jumping – Rodrigo Pessoa
Fencing – Cleia Gulhon da Silva
Field Hockey – Djeniffer Dombrowicz Vasques
Football – Marta Vieira da Silva
Futsal – Tiago de Melo Marinho
Handball – Jaqueline Anastácio
Ice Sports – Kevin Bettencourt Alves
Judo – Sarah Menezes
Modern Pentathlon – Yane Marques
Mountain Biking – Edivando de Souza Cruz
Open Water Swimming – Poliana Okimoto
Rhythmic Gymnastics – Ana Paula Scheffer
Road Cycling – Murilo Fischer
Rowing – Ailson Eráclito da Silva
Sailing – Torben Grael
Shooting – Ana Luiza Ferrão
Snow Sports – Maya Harrison
Swimming – César Cielo
Synchronized swimming – Nayara Leite Figueira
Table Tennis – Thiago Monteiro
Taekwondo – Natália Falavigna
Tennis – Thomaz Bellucci
Track Cycling – Marcos Christian Novello
Trampoline Gymnastics – Taissa Paraíso Garcia
Triathlon – Reinaldo Colucci
Volleyball – Fabiana Marcelino Claudino
Water Polo – Marina Canetti
Weightlifting – Rosane dos Reis Santos
Wrestling – Laís Nunes de Oliveira