The following appeared in Globo Esporte on April 12. Thanks to our Portuguese translator, we have an excellent English version of the piece that explores how things are going for Brazil in the lead-up to the test event.
The Hero of 2012, Daniele Hypolito Hopes For a Calmer Qualification in Rio
On the eve of the test event, the gymnast recalls winning the final spot for the London Games and calls the current Brazilian team a “very good and strong group.”
Daniele Hypolito burst into tears after hitting a series of skills on beam. Her crying carried her feelings to the surface after she finished Brazil’s final routine at the test event in 2012, coming after Jade Barbosa had fallen twice on the apparatus. The prayers of Hypolito and her teammates were heard by the heavens, and the veteran was marked as a heroine of the test event as Brazil sealed the final qualification spot for the London Games. With this moment etched in her memory, Dani returns to relive the thrill of the test event competition once again this Sunday.
“The test event in 2012 was very exciting, especially on beam. I was the last athlete to compete, and we could not have any more mistakes because Jade had just fallen. She came down from the podium looking at me as if saying, ‘please fix what I’ve done.’ We have those secret codes in competition, our looks at one another. As I was chalking up before my routine, I looked down at the girls and they were all praying. I was calm because I knew I could hit my routine. The decision would be up to the judges. Thank God it worked. It was very exciting to see we had qualified, but while I was the one who went up last, I don’t think I was a heroine. It was our very strong work as a team. At that time, it was even more difficult for us to qualify than it will be now,” said the 31-year-old gymnast, whose scores have grown between 2012 and now, adding even more points to the green and yellow team.
The veteran believes that this time, Brazil will have no need to pray in the final rotation to earn their spot at the Games, as their outlook next Sunday is much more encouraging. The host team is among the favorites this year, with Dani, Jade, Flavia Saraiva, Lorrane Oliveira, and Rebeca Andrade set to compete (Carolyne Pedro and Milena Theodoro will vie for the final spot to be named following podium training).
“Now we have many quality girls. Besides me, there’s Rebeca, Flavia, Jade, and Lorrane, and our reserves are also very strong. We’re much more calm now than we were in 2012. In London, we didn’t have much time to improve between worlds and the test event, and were only fully training for a month. Now it’s been a while since worlds, giving us time to recover, especially those who are coming back from injury,” Dani said.
The gymnast says that this time, no one should need to take on the role of heroine saving the team. She points out that the entire team has responsibilities. Daniele’s own job is to use her experience of already having competed at a test event in addition to hitting all four of her events without major mistakes.
“This year, the responsibility is well-balanced. Each knows her own importance within the team. Experience means a lot at events like this, so my role is to keep everyone else calm while also competing. I want to do really well in the competition. The whole team is focused. We know how important it is as a group to all be working towards the same goal. It is important to be focused as one team, and we are each an important member of that team.”
Brazil’s team will compete in the Olympic Arena against Australia, Belgium, South Korea, France, Romania, and Switzerland. The top four will earn spots at the Olympic Games.
“We are nervous because we are competing at home. It’s different. You want to show everyone in the country that we’re good as a group. We have psychologists, we have our technical staff, we practice meditation to reach the point of tranquility we’ll need during the competition. It will be beautiful. All teams there have the ability to fight. At the moment, we’re training, not thinking about the other teams, but Romania, Belgium, Germany, and France are all going to be very close. We just have to compete the way we did at worlds,” Dani said, noting that Brazil ranked ninth in 2015, one spot away from qualifying into the team final.
The team has a job to do at the test event, but Brazil also has to prepare for the Olympic Games. Hypolito began working on a new floor routine for the season, featuring two hits by the singer Anitta – “Show das Poderosas” and “Bang.” The idea is to captivate the crowd with a song popular among the young people in Brazil.
“I’m a fan of Anitta, and as we are in Brazil, I wanted a song that caught the attention of the public, something most people know, because we know that we’ll have many young people there watching us. I wanted to give that touch of youth. Anitta is well-known by everyone. Her music is great for floor…it works well choreographically, which is very important in gymnastics. It’s also a song that draws attention. Like it or not, people know Anitta. I love the dance breaks in her songs.”
Dani tried out her new routine at the City of Jesolo Trophy in March, but saw that it’s not yet ready for a big competition. She’ll return to her old routine at the test event, which has a great rhythm, but is a classic.
“I’m going back to my old music because it’s very important to have security. My old routine, I’m used to it, the choreography is more incorporated. After the test event I’ll start working on the Anitta routine again so I can come into the Olympics with good choreography. There are always people who like my routines and those who don’t. I can’t please everyone. In Jesolo, it felt like the choreographic aspect was still raw, not yet perfected. I didn’t have time to work the choreography with the music, because I competed at Baku the previous month and had to focus on other routines. But once the test event is over we’ll get back to it and work on the choreography again. We will change a lot.”
Article by Marcos Guerra