Meet the team: Shooting the next Olympics at home

It’s winter in Brazil, they said, but with a minimum temperature of 30 degree Celsius each day in Rio de Janeiro, the weather is more summer for most of the 120 athletes competing at the Aquece Rio Olympic archery test event.

For Brazil, the host team, the competition is the start of an exciting journey – one for which they didn’t and won’t have to travel far.

Rio de Janeiro is the city where the Brazilian archery team train. It’s a place they all know well and a place that they love not just because of the weather, the food or people – though they appreciate all of these things – but because it’s the place they call home.

The Brazilian archery team receives a full six archery quota places to the Rio 2016 Olympics as host country. 

While the selection procedure for the athletes chosen to represent the country at the next Olympiad is underway, Marcus D’Almeida, Daniel XavierBernardo Oliveira, Sarah Nikitin, Ane Marcelle Dos Santos and Marina Canetta were selected to shoot at the Aquece Rio International Archery Challenge.

We spoke to the team, with coach Evandro de Azevedo, about how they feel shooting at home, in the Olympic venue and against international competitors in the Rio 2016 venue for the first time.

Read on and meet the team…

How does it feel to shoot internationally, at home?

Bernardo Oliveira: “This has been a good experience so far. We are in a city that we know well, we like the food and just having the chance to listen to people talking in Portuguese makes us feel safe. It’s a great pleasure.”

Marcus D’Almeida: “It’s a nice feeling to be home. I enjoy having the chance to talk to my family and friends without having the feeling I’m too far away. This is a great opportunity and new experience in my career.”

Marina Canetta: “I think it’s very interesting to have athletes from all over the world in our country. We know the people that work here, it’s a very familiar environment and without a doubt, it is far better to shoot at home rather than in other countries. The test event and the Games will generate more visibility for our sport in Brazil, as it doesn’t have much now.”

Does the Sambódromo have any special meaning for you?

Anne Marcelle: “I have danced in the Sambódromo since I was young. For me, this is way more than just shooting at an iconic venue. This is a place where I have spent so much time of my life and I have the chance to join two things I love: Carnival and archery.”

What’s the perception of archery in Brazil?

Sarah Nikitin: “Brazilians have only started to understand what archery for the last two years. Before, people thought it was a gun or a pastime of the indigenous people here, but not an Olympic sport. Now, people like it and are starting to support it.”

What are the expectations for this test event?

Evandro de Azevedo: “They all want to improve a few things in their technique and to shoot better scores like they have done in training. They are all focused on enjoying this event and learning as much as they can to know what needs more work ahead of the Games.

“As a team, here, they have the chance to understand what it is to be at the Olympic Games.”

The recurve men’s team is based in Rio, how’s your relationship?

MD: “It’s like a family. Every day we learn from each other. It’s very important and great experience for us as we are all different. Daniel has been shooting for more than 20 years, Bernardo for ten and me, for just five years.”

BO: “It’s a great experience. I never got the chance to have brothers but now I know what it means to. We need to understand well each other in order to have a good relationship on- and off-the-field.”

“Living together helps us to understand what the other is thinking or feeling every time we are competing. It’s like having two brothers.”

Daniel Xavier: “We are three generations together that works as a family. We are brothers by destiny and we have created a good bond. We know it is something far beyond archery and we are pretty sure it will last.”

How do you cope with being together as a team?

MD: “We have a good relationship. We are one and as a team, we have the same goals. We have been through many things and this gives us the strength to stay together.”

What do people say to you in competition?

MC: “Vai Brasil!”

BO: “We are all one, vai Brasil… It’s great when people talk to us because they cheer us up. We can feel all their affection, their energy and the positive manner in which they treat us.”

DX: “Most of the people in Brazil are interested in football, basketball or volleyball, but not in archery. This is the first time they get to see a bow, so they are just working out how it works.”

“But every time a Brazilian is competing, no matter the sport, Brazil supports.”

Apart from archery, do you have any hobbies?

SN: “I like to ride my bike and read.”

AM: “Cooking!”

What’s your biggest achievement in archery?

MC: “Archery helped me to understand myself.”

BO: “Winning bronze at the Pan American Games in Toronto with the team and being national champion twice.”

Do you feel any extra pressure shooting at home?

MC: “I don’t feel any pressure at all as archery in Brazil is not big as in other countries. It is hard to compare.”

MD: “It depends on how you look at it. For me, pressure is more like support, it shows that people care.”

IF you have the chance to shoot in the finals at Rio 2016, how do you think it would be?

BO: “Shooting against another Brazilian – but, of course, me winning.” [Laughs]