Thursday, January 30, 2014

Accident Seriously Injures Brazilian Olympic Hopeful

The Olympic dream came to an unfortunate end for a Brazilian skier who could’ve been one of the few Latin American athletes to participate in the upcoming Winter Games.

Lais Souza underwent spine surgery on Wednesday after suffering an accident while training in Salt Lake City on Monday.  She was in an intensive care unit at a University of Utah hospital, awake and breathing with the help of a ventilation machine.

Souza entered the hospital with minimal sensation from her neck down, and was only able to communicate using her eyes and by moving her head.  She reportedly moved her shoulders slightly yesterday, which is a positive sign prior to the additional surgeries she will have to undergo this week.

”Lais has a long recovery process in front of her,” Team Brasil doctor Antonio Marttos said, according to a statement from the Brazilian Olympic Committee. ”A long-term prognostic cannot be predicted at this time. Her medical team is doing everything possible to allow her to have the best recovery possible.”

Souza participated as a gymnast in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics yet took up aerial skiing roughly six months ago.  Before that neither she or training partner Joselane Rodrigues dos Santos had ever skied and Souza had only seen snow once in her life.

This was the worst thing that could’ve happened to her,” said Ryan Snow, Souza’s Canadian-born coach who discovered her and Santos during a trial last May.  Snow said in a Brazilian TV interview that he was observing the technique of the two women during a training exercise when he suddenly “heard a noise” and saw that Souza had crashed into a tree.

There was no guarantee that a Brazilian athlete would qualify for women’s aerials but the withdrawal of an injury skier from Belarus allowed Brazil to receive the final place.  That spot would’ve been available for Sosa but earlier today Brazilian sports officials announced that Santos would go to Sochi instead.

Compared to its summer counterpart, the Winter Olympics are largely overlooked among Latin American athletes.  (Alpine skiers Antonio Pardo and Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe will each represent Venezuela and Mexico, respectively).  Nevertheless, Brazil will be sending a record thirteen winter Olympics athletes to Russia representing several sports including bobsled, snowboard and figure skating.

Speaking of Brazil and the Olympics, numerous problems continue to plague the preparations for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.  The event’s organizing committee revealed last week that the operating budget increased to approximately $2.9 billion, which was a 25% jump over initial estimates.  Meanwhile, protesters on Saturday sat on nonworking toilets placed along Ipanema Beach in order to call attention to the lack of proper sanitation in Rio.
Video Source– YouTube user tvbrasil

Online Sources – Huffington Post; Bloomberg; Estadao; Portal FI; NBC Sports; Ahe!

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