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Brazilian Skier Left the Slum to Compete in Winter Olympics

02/20/2018 - 11h19

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GUSTAVO LONGO
FROM PYEONGCHANG

Like many young Brazilians, Victor Santos, 20, dreamed of soccer and imagined that the sport could provide him with a better situation in life. But it ended up being another sporting modality that provided for a significant change in his life.

The young resident of the São Remo favela (slum), which neighbors the Cidade Universitária (University City) in the Eastern Zone of São Paulo, has become the country's top contender in cross-country skiing, a winter endurance sport which requires the athlete to ski over different distances.

"It's cool to participate in the Olympic Games, but it also increases your responsibility. I serve as an example for other young people from the project. I want to pass on to them the same kind of opportunity that I had to get here", he said.

Victor's trajectory began to change in 2013, when he got to know the Ski na Rua (Ski in the Street) Social Project.

At the time he was 16 years old and worked at odd day jobs to help support his family. He worked as a supermarket bag boy, washed and looked after cars in the street, and sold bottled water.

He decided to try a different sport merely for fun at the invitation of his brothers who were already participating in the Project - and he has never looked back since.

Currently Victor is among the top three highest ranked athletes in the sport in Latin America. He also holds the Brazilian records in the Adult and Junior categories and is a three-time champion on the Brazilian Roller Skiing circuit.

He is already thinking about the next Olympic cycle. "I myself have been a little surprised by my development. I want to continue my training and try for a spot in the next Olympic Games."

Translated by LLOYD HARDER

Read the article in the original language

Carlos Barria/Reuters
Victor Santos of Brazil reacts after crossing the finish line
Victor Santos of Brazil reacts after crossing the finish line

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