By Ciara Long, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On December 10th and 11th, local athletes in Rio de Janeiro competed in the final stages of a sporting competition to become ‘Rei e Rainha do Mar’ (‘King and Queen of the Sea’). The competition was held on Copacabana beach and attracted leading aquatic athletes from Brazil and around the world, as well as offering chances for children and residents to participate.
The event was created in homage to Brazilian athlete Poliana Okimoto, the first female in the country to win an Olympic medal for swimming. Okimoto participated in the competition along with fellow Brazilian Olympic medalist Allan do Carmo.
Around 4,000 people were expected to flock to Copacabana beach over the weekend to watch or participate as the event celebrated its eighth birthday.
Previous rounds of the 2016 competition took place in nineteen states across Brazil, including Bahia and São Paulo, and registered more than 10,000 participants.
The event’s aim is to promote incorporating sport as a part of a healthy lifestyle for Brazilians. “It’s a weekend for the whole family to enjoy,” said Pedro Rego Monteiro, director of the agency responsible for the event, Effect Sport.
“This new distance of 2.5 kilometers is important to encourage more beginners to practice sports,” said Mr Monteiro. “Parents can test themselves and children can participate too, and on Sunday everyone can come and cheer for Brazil in the elite challenges.”
Yesterday, Sunday, December 11th International and Brazilian athletes participated in ‘elite challenges’, such as a ten kilometer beach run, a ‘Super Challenge’ ten kilometer sea swim and a beach bi-athlon, combining a one kilometer swim and a 2.5 kilometer run.
The elite challenges saw Okimoto and Carmo finishing in second place, while Italian duo Rachele Bruni and Dario Verani were crowned 2016’s ‘King and Queen of the Sea’.
Events on Saturday, December 10th, included beach races and sea swims of various lengths, plus a stand-up paddle board competition for members of the public.
Children aged between five and thirteen years also had the opportunity to participate in short running and swimming races to gain the title of ‘Prince and Princess of the Sea’.