Have you noticed a surge in very athletic-looking people decked out in green and yellow around campus? Well, you, sir or madam, are one keen observer, because it just so happens that York University has been granted the fortune of housing Team Brazil (Time Brasil, in Portuguese) for the duration of the Games.
Although the majority of athletes arrived here only a little more than a week ago, they have already settled in and are well into their practice. And practice hard they do, I assure you, because we from the YU Blog had the chance to watch a bit this past week as Tait McKenzie filled with the sounds of Brazilians sparring, jumping, refining their final form just before the big competitions.
Alongside the many smiling faces of members of the Brazilian press, we funnelled into the gym to observe the women’s wrestling team, the women’s basketball team and both the men’s and women’s judo teams. We even had the opportunity to speak briefly to Yuko Nakano, who coaches both the men and the women in judo, and to David Moura, a member of the men’s judo team with high hopes for the Games. Take a look at what we saw and heard:
“I started judo when I was five years old. My mom took me to one of the dojos near my house. The first day I got thrown by my friend and [laughs] I hit my head on the tatami [ground]. I hated judo the first day, but it was easy to love judo afterwards. I’m proud of myself for being one of the Judoka.”
“My father was a professional judo player, and he was third place in the Pan American Games in ’75. I am proud to be here, I am very happy, and I like Canada a lot. The rooms are good, the food is good, the equipment, the place for training. . . . Everything’s good. We don’t need anything more.”
Unfortunately, my request for a one-on-one sparring session with the judo coaches was denied. Something about liability issues . . . . But that’s probably why I’m here to write this post! Regardless, watching the athletes practice was incredibly fascinating, and we wish all the teams involved the best of luck.
Be sure to stay tuned to the YU Blog’s ongoing series Pan Ambling for up-to-date news on anything and everything to do with the Games. And let us know about your own experiences with the athletes on or off campus.