Brazilians consider yellow jersey win in Rio Olympics a national humiliation

Image copyright CSA Image caption For Tira’s Piê Quiros, cycling is more than a sport Nearly one in four Brazilians consider the national team’s Lance Armstrong-like yellow jersey victory at this year’s Rio de…

Brazilians consider yellow jersey win in Rio Olympics a national humiliation

Image copyright CSA Image caption For Tira’s Piê Quiros, cycling is more than a sport

Nearly one in four Brazilians consider the national team’s Lance Armstrong-like yellow jersey victory at this year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics a national humiliation, a poll finds.

But almost one in five say the medals are a national victory, too.

All adults were asked in the BBC Brazil poll, carried out in late February and early March, how they felt about the achievements of the yellow jersey cyclists during the Rio Olympics.

For 23% of those polled, it was a national humiliation. One in 20 felt it was a national victory – and one in 10 was neutral.

Image copyright CSA Image caption For Stephanie Meantow, the joy at the result was more than just about being competitive

Across the country, more than seven in 10 were either neutral or neutral on the matter, the survey results suggest.

In Rio de Janeiro, 70% of those polled said they felt the medal-winning cyclists were a national disgrace, while 27% said they were a victory and 8% believed they were a triumph.

If history is a guide, one Brazilian might be regretting his or her assessment, however.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Gymnast Arthur Zanetti’s performance in Rio gave a voice to a significant number of Brazilian fans

The last time Brazilian cycling won a major world title was when Arthur Zanetti collected the solitary gold medal at the inaugural world championships in Florence in 1993.

The scores in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, were slightly better.

While the yellow jersey medal winners’ average rating in Rio de Janeiro was 72%, it was 65% in Brasilia.

For Pinto Meantow, however, the joy at the Rio Olympics results more than just about being competitive. It was a triumph for human dignity.

The results ‘show my perception is wrong’

Image copyright IEC Image caption Almost 1 in 5 Brazilians ‘thought the nation’s success was humiliation’.

“I was watching the Olympics and in that moment I realised that this culture of cynicism was against the culture of humanity,” the Rio de Janeiro student told the BBC.

“I’m a student, I don’t have much experience of sports. I had not seen so many people of all races. I realised that everyone had a story, everyone had a family that went through hardship and things that were not normally seen.

“It made me proud.”

Image copyright IEC Image caption Diana Cardoso and Zofia Zazzer are passionate about cycling. The pair have travelled the country to promote it.

Like other Brazilians, Diana Cardoso and Zofia Zazzer are huge cycling fans.

For Zofia, the passion for bike riding was beyond measure – the reason she decided to give it a try.

“I grew up in a family of professionals,” said the 73-year-old, who was in the audience at the Velodrome at the Olympic velodrome in Rio de Janeiro when Brazil first won a world title in the 1991 world championships.

“There was only cycling, there was only a very small club of the two brothers that I have. It was an object of our daily conversations.

“Many of them have been killed, some of them are paraplegics and they’re still inspiring many.

“I consider that a culture of victory is more important than any medal.”

From far and wide of Brazil to share and share alike, globally

Image copyright IEC Image caption Education, its economy, its brand, its football and its politicians are the main concerns of Brazilians

The message for Olympians and Paralympians – not that it applies to much of the rest of the population – is simple.

The approval ratings for Brazil’s sports ministry are rock bottom (1% according to the Rio de Janeiro police department) and it is hard to find a name for any of the Olympic sportspersons who won gold, silver or bronze medals, except the venerable Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Brazilians insist there is good reason for them.

But, when they judge an athlete, they don’t keep it to themselves.

Tired of middle-school students having to ask parents to tell them where they went to high school or where their father was a priest, Roberto Acosta opened Rio’s first public high school for cycling in January.

“No-one knows the name of the sport,” he said. “But that’s changed now, because of the Olympics.”

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