The five medals that Maria Carolina Santiago "stacked" in Tokyo, as they say in sports jargon, were literally stacked beside her bed this Thursday morning.
The swimmer, who competes in classes for athletes with visual impairments, had carefully left them there before falling asleep. Upon waking up, she soon went to check out and admire the new heritage once more.
Faced with the extensive competition program, only now has she been able to relax and
to reflect on her campaign in Japan. At 36, the Recife-born swimmer made her Paralympic debut this year and will leave with the best performance among all Brazilian participants.
She won three gold medals (50 m freestyle, 100 m freestyle, and 100 m breaststroke), a silver (relay 4 x 100 m mixed freestyle), and a bronze (100 m backstroke)—unprecedented numbers for an athlete in the country in a single edition of the Games.
The Pernambuco woman discovered several of the feats she performed as they happened.
"Today I feel the weight of this. I know how important each stage was. We women have gained a lot from this. It has opened doors for people to believe that it is possible. If there is an investment, we will arrive. The five medals are useful for a girl to look at and see that if she can do it, I can do it too," Carol said in a telephone interview with Folha from Japan.
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon