By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In August a hidden camera captured three of Brazil’s para-athletes training in a local gym as part of a marketing viral campaign. In the footage, viewers can see how regular gym-goers were first surprised and confused, and then clearly impressed by the strength capability of their Paralympians.
The advertising content was been designed to raise awareness and support for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and it has been viewed more than 3.5 million times on Rio2016’s Youtube video.
In the 2:15 minute video, Luciano Dantas, a powerlifter with dwarfism who won bronze in August’s Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games, bench presses more than twice his own bodyweight.
Lucia Teixeira, a visually impaired judoka who was a silver medallist at the London 2012 Paralymic Games, floors a local Rio judo champion as well as the rest of the class. Also Vinicius Rodrigues, a sprinter who lost a leg in a motorbike accident only 18-months ago, reaches 15MPH on the treadmill running with his blade.
“More than simply a social experiment, this action is proof that when you watch these athletes up close, you really will be amazed,” said Felix del Valle, creative director of videos at Ogilvy Brazil, the agency that made the film.
Brazil’s para-athletes won 116 more medals than their able-bodied team-mates at this year’s Parapan Am Games in Canada. Yet some of the athletes have been disappointed by how little was known about their achievements back home. The video has begun to change that.
“Now people stop to greet me in the street, ask for autographs and photos. This video showed that if the Paralympic Games get a lot of television coverage, the public will get behind para-athletes.” Dantas said. “It [the video] gives us more motivation to get up in the morning, to train hard and perform to our best.”
Rodrigues who himself was inspired by three-time Paralympic Games champion Terezinha Guilhermina who came to visit him in hospital following his accident hopes he will be able to help others in the same way.
“Now, after the video, it’s my turn to continue this cycle, to be someone who can inspire others. People from all over the world are contacting me on social networks,” he said.