Black Woman Was only Brazilian Woman at 1964 Tokyo Olympics

Aida dos Santos didn't even have sneakers for the high jump, but she finished in 4th place

Rio de Janeiro

At the age of 27, Aida dos Santos had no shoes, trainer, no mattress, and often not even food. At 83, she has countless medals, three diplomas, a track named after her, and even a documentary.

It started by chance with volleyball matches on Sundays in adolescence. The colleague who gave her a ride on a bicycle practiced athletics and blackmailed her: "If today I don't have a quorum for the game and you don't want to do high jump with me, come home on foot."

Aida dos Santos ( Foto: Ricardo Borges/Folhapress) - Folhapress

As a result, Aida became the only Brazilian woman at the 1964 Olympics, the last to take place in Tokyo. The Japanese capital was supposed to host the event again from Friday (24), but it was postponed to 2021 because of Covid-19.

The athlete mixes affection and sadness when remembering the days she spent in the country when she was 27 years old. "I was crying a lot in that Japan, my God," she said in the house where she lives with her husband in Niterói, in the metropolitan region of Rio.

The tears came from the loneliness of competing in the Olympics without a coach, without an interpreter, without a uniform, without anything. The neglect started even before the competition. She and another black colleague were forced to go through five qualifiers despite having already reached the Olympic qualifying high of 1.65 meters (today it is 1.96 meters).

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

Read the article in the original language