As A Child, Alison dos Santos Had to Overcome His Shyness to Enter Athletics

Bronze medalist in 400 m hurdles at first fought judo and then began athletics at the invitation of his friend

João Gabriel Bruno Santos

His nickname was Teco. He jumped walls and ran after kites and balls.

In São Joaquim da Barra, a municipality in the interior of São Paulo with 50,000 inhabitants, life is very different than that of Alison dos Santos, 21, the first Brazilian medalist in the 400 m hurdles event at the Olympics with a bronze medal. Her mother, Sueli, 50, still lives in his childhood home.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Athletics - Men's 400m Hurdles - Medal Ceremony - Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - August 3, 2021. Bronze medallist Alison Dos Santos of Brazil celebrates on the podium REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel - REUTERS

The sprinter, whose father's name is Gerson, also has three sisters. He spent part of his childhood at his grandmother Geni's house, where he suffered the burns that mark his body. She stirred the pot of hot oil, but her grandmother managed to intervene, deflecting the package with her hands. Both have serious burns, and they were hospitalized for days.

Alison was shy, in part due to scars. His friendship with Alexandre Inocêncio, 19, helped him overcome his shyness and encouraged him to switch from judo to athletics.

Alison was hired by the Pinheiros club in the city of São Paulo, where he currently lives.

His parents, now separated, miss him but recognize the importance of sport.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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