Mixed-Gender Duet Breaks Barriers in Brazil's Synchronized Swimming

With partner Celina Rangel, Murillo Cunha matures and stands out in mostly female sport

São Paulo

Many are still unaware and repeat the same question asked by Murillo Cunha when he discovered the sport, six years ago: but is there anything artistic for men? He learned that he did and today he is emerging as a promise of Brazil in youth competitions.

In early December, Murillo, 16, and Celina Rangel, 18, will participate in the Junior Pan American Games, in Colombia, and with that they will be the protagonists of an important milestone. It will be the first event under the scope of the COB (Olympic Committee of Brazil) with the mixed duet event.

The inclusion of men in the artistic field, for decades disputed only by women, has taken place gradually. At the Fina (International Swimming Federation) World Championships, since 2015 mixed events are part of the program. In recent years, they also became part of regional and youth tournaments.

At the age of 10, Murillo learned that he could practice the sport because of his sister, when he accompanied her on a test project that the Government of São Paulo had at the Ibirapuera Center of Excellence. Invited to participate in the selection, he accepted and was approved.

The prejudiced comments came, and the athlete often admits to having suffered from playing a predominantly female sport.

"I've been through many of these situations, some of them I still go through sometimes. I had to create this shield from time to time. As I gained maturity, I started not caring so much about these things and from then on it was just uphill."

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

Read the article in the original language