Famous names abound in Brazilian squad

Published on August 6th, 2016

By Lisa Gabrielson, Sailing World
When Robert Scheidt, 5-time Olympic medalist in the Laser and Star class, ascended the stage to take the Olympic oath on behalf of the athletes at the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremonies, both the Brazilian team and their international competition paid full attention. It was a huge moment for the sport of sailing and for Scheidt, who is a household name in Brazil. His name and face is now tantamount to the Rio Olympic Games, and of the sport of Olympic sailing.

Scheidt will sail in his home waters when the Laser begins competition on August 8, and attempt to break the record for most medals held by a single sailor. In past Games he was tapped as a medal contender early on, and while the local knowledge swings decisively in his favor, Scheidt predicts Great Britain’s Nick Thompson will be his greatest threat on the course. “It may be the first Olympics where I’m not arriving as the favorite,” he says.

“He’s got a huge amount of experience sailing here,” says Thompson of Schedit. “I’m sure he feels very comfortable in the venue, he spent so much time sailing here in the past even when he was younger. I’ve done as much as I could do to prepare, and now it’s down to the competition.”

Scheidt sees the hometown advantage as one that extends to the entire Brazilian Olympic team. “The energy of being in our country, with our fans, eating our feijao, drinking our orange juice, all the things that you love from this country, all this gives you a different energy and will make the Brazilian athletes have more confidence to compete here,” says Scheidt.

Scheidt wasn’t the only sailor with a special involvement in the Opening Ceremony. His wife, Laser Radial sailor Gintare Scheidt, carried the Lithuanian flag in the parade of nations. Sailing legend Torben Grael, whose daughter Martine is sailing in the 49erFX class and son Marco is sailing in the 49er, carried the Olympic flag into the stadium with five other legendary athletes from Brazil. The eldest Grael has taken on a coach role, for Brazil, in this Olympiad. – Read On.

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