The place where the best canoe slalom athletes in the world competed in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, will now also be a place to foster the growth of new athletes.

The Deodoro Radical Park will open its doors to the needy community that lives in its surroundings, where a canoeing school has been created at the initiative of the Rio de Janeiro City Hall and the Brazilian Canoe Confederation. It will provide a sporting opportunity for hundreds of young people from Rio de Janeiro.

Its name will be João Tomasini Canoe School (Escolinha de Canoagem João Tomasini), in honor of the former president of the Brazilian Canoe Confederation who passed away in January of COVID-19 complications.

The school will have free classes for young people between 10 and 17 years old. City mayor Eduardo Paes visited the site and spoke of the importance of the Olympic legacy.

“We are in an important part of the city that a good part of Cariocas have no idea where it is," the mayor said.

"A space for leisure and physical activity has been created. It is a meeting place for people from the poorest areas of the city. Deodoro Park is an important legacy of the Olympics. It is a sporting legacy. Even in a time of scarcity of resources, it is important not to close the spaces.”

the chance to carry out the dream of becoming an Olympic athletes

According to the Municipal Sports Secretary, Guilherme Schleder, the initiative will bring residents closer to the practice of sports, with the possibility of national idols appearing in the near future.

“We have practically the same activities in all Olympic Villages: volleyball, athletics, swimming… And Radical Park is such a cool, different space, that maybe in a year or two we will have children going down the rapids and becoming canoe athletes," he said.

"The school will give children and young people the chance to carry out the dream of becoming an Olympic athletes.”

The CBCa (Brazilian Canoe Confederation) provided boats for the school, which will have four classes of 10 to 15 students. The classes, with teachers trained by CBCa, will take place from Monday to Wednesday (10am to 11am, 11am to 12pm, 2pm to 3pm and 3pm to 4pm). All Covid-19 prevention protocols will be respected, and students must know how to swim.

The Brazilian athletes of the sport, who are training at the Deodoro Radical Park, embraced the initiative. Ana Sátila, qualified for the Tokyo Games, scheduled for July and August, switch in 2019 her address from Foz do Iguaçu, where she lived for five years, to Rio de Janeiro. All this in the name of the dream of being an Olympic medalist, after frustrated attempts at the London Games in 2012 and Rio in 2016.

“The Deodoro Park track is one of the best in the world, which even the organizers of the Tokyo Games came here to copy," Satila said.

"We have never had such a large structure, which is fundamental for us to be able to achieve the objective that is the Olympic medal."

Tribute to Tomasini

The school was named after the former president of the Brazilian Canoe Confederation (CBCa), João Tomasini Schwertner, who passed away on January 17 due to complications from COVID-19.

Tomasini was one of the main enthusiasts in transforming the canoe slalom canal at the Deodoro Radical Park into a legacy for the local population. The social project has a vision of social transformation through sport. The idea is to give an opportunity to the needy population that lives around the Olympic complex in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazilian Canoe Confederation/COPAC

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