Eliane Martins, chief of Brazil's gymnastics team for the Beijing Olympic Games said on Monday that the country's female gymnasts are set on winning the bronze medal on the team competition.
According to Martins, while China and the United States fight for the gold, Brazil will compete with rivals such as Russian and Romanian teams for the bronze.
It will be a tough competition. Brazil's gymnastics has gone through an astounding evolution since Ukranian coach Oleg Ostapenko took over in 2001, but the country has yet to win an Olympic medal in the sport.
In Athens 2004, Brazil had its best chance with Daiane dos Santos, the first Brazilian to win a gold medal in a World Championship, in 2003. She was one of the favorites for the Olympic gold on the floor exercise but ended up in fifth place.
In Beijing, Dos Santos' experience will certainly be an asset in the team competition, but in the
individual finals, Brazil's best chance is 17-year-old Jade Barbosa, who won three medals in the Pan-American Games last year.
According to the coach, Barbosa has a good chance to qualify for four
of the six female Olympic finals if she overcomes her nervousness.
Brazil's male gymnastics team, which won the silver medal in the 2007 Pan-American Games, did not qualify for the Olympics. Diego Hypolito, two times world champion on the floor exercise, will be the only male gymnast to compete for Brazil in Beijing.
It might be enough. Even though he went through a knee surgery and contracted dengue fever in the first half of 2008, missing more than a month of practice, Hypolito is the favorite for the floor exercise gold.
(Xinhua News Agency August 5, 2008)