School in Santa Teresa becomes center of excellence in revealing olympic talents
Students who stand out in sports such as soccer, volleyball and handball are trained at the unit – the first of the Experimental Olympic Gymnasiums
The Japanese expression – “Difficulties are like the mountains. They only flatten out when we advance over them – ” fits like a glove for the terrain where the Experimental Olympic Gymnasium will be erected. Etched into one of the slopes of the Maciço da Tijuca mountain at the top of a valley where it is possible to see the Escondidinho, Prazeres and Fallet Mountains in the neighborhood of Santa Teresa, the former building of the Civil Association for the Dissemination of Japanese Culture is making room for a new concept of education focused on sports.
Abandoned after the intensification of armed conflicts in the region, the school was purchased by the Rio de Janeiro City Government and gradually has become a model in the academic preparation of youth associated with the practice of sports.
Bernardo Carvalho, the Executive Director of the Municipal Olympic Company (Rio 2016 Institute), emphasized that the school’s importance is helping to train more than just athletes – it is helping to develop people.
– It is a first-of-its-kind model in Brazil, where students with a natural talent for sports will be directed to this school to receive here all of the incentives and structure to develop skills in the Olympic categories – said Carvalho.
The unit will include the traditional categories, such as soccer, in addition to other more specifically Olympic ones, such as rugby, track and field, basketball, volleyball, handball and swimming. With the school structure ready, some remodeling work is necessary to adapt certain equipment.
The Experimental Olympic Gymnasium (GEO), which will receive the name of the former president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Juan Antonio Samaranch, should be fully operating by early 2012 so that students can begin at the new school at the start of the school year.
Coordinator of the project to develop the Experimental Olympic Gymnasium and Physical Education teacher by profession, Maurício Pinto celebrates the new reality of municipal education only a few years from the Rio 2016 Games.
– The GEO is a dream that the entire Rio de Janeiro sports community always had, of having a systematized methodology for discovering talent – said the teacher, clearly proud of the space, which will have a second gymnasium and dormitories for exchange students.
According to Pinto, in addition to being selected for their physical aptitude, the students must maintain a school performance that is compatible with the sports performance in order to continue participating in the project. The coordinator further points out that the students will have daily English classes and nutritional, psychological and health care support, available full time.
– Because this school already has its structure in place, the first Experimental Olympic Gymnasium will be here, and all the experience that we acquire here will help us improve the other four GEOs – in Pedra de Guaratiba, Honório Gurgel, Caju and Ilha do Governador – he said.