Portugal maintains ambition of four podiums at the Olympic Games


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The sports director of the Portuguese Olympic Committee (COP) assured that the Portuguese Mission is in line with the objectives proposed for Paris2024, which foresee the possibility of repeating the four medals from Tokyo2020.

In an interview with the Lusa news agency, on the 100th day since the start of the Olympic Games on Wednesday, Pedro Roque said that Portugal is “perfectly aligned” with the provisions of the program contract with the government, which talks about four podium positions, 15 diplomas (up to eighth place) and 36 positions up to 16th place.

The official recalls that this was the balance of Tokyo2020, “Portugal’s best results ever” at the Olympic Games, so the Portuguese Mission leaves for Paris with “a base that has never been achieved in Portugal”.

“What we’re proposing is to at least match what was done in Tokyo. Of course, the signals given in Tokyo were very positive, with results we hadn’t had before. Being able to maintain these same results will be a great achievement for Portuguese sport […]. The objectives are very challenging, but we are perfectly aligned with them and we can and must achieve them. If it doesn’t happen, it won’t be by a huge margin either, that’s our prediction,” he said.

Even though three of the four medal winners in Tokyo2020 had a complicated Olympic cycle – Pedro Pablo Pichardo, Patrícia Mamona and Jorge Fonseca had physical problems – the COP still hopes to have four medals, even looking at the results of recent years at world championships.

“In 2023, we had three podium positions, all of them gold. And this was the first time that three first-place podium positions had happened in Portugal at the world championships. In 2022, we had five. In 2021, at the Olympic Games, there were four. 2020 doesn’t count, because it was a pandemic year, in 2019 we got six, which was our record. […] Which means that, if we take the average, we’re looking at around four medals here,” he said.

Stressing that these results are “an indicator of the quality” of the Portuguese team, Pedro Roque assumes that there is still a lot of work to be done, since Portugal, with an average of 1.12 medals per Games, is a long way from the European average (nine) and even from countries of a similar size (7.5).

“Which means that our best representation was close to half of those countries with between five and 12 million inhabitants, and below half of the EU average. […] We won’t be able to reach the EU average, quite predictably, in Paris. But we have to aim for other editions of the Olympic Games, because if we want convergence in so many areas of our society, even in sport, particularly in high performance and Olympic participation, we think we should have that goal and that objective,” he stressed.

With 100 days to go until the Olympic Games, Portugal has 40 athletes with guaranteed quotas, 16 fewer than on the same date in Tokyo2020 (played in 2021 due to the covid-19 pandemic), a figure influenced by the fact that handball failed to qualify for the second time in a row – there would have been 14 handballers – although Pedro Roque doesn’t consider it a failure.

“If five years ago we thought it was possible for handball to be in the deciding match for the Olympic Games on two occasions and on one of them to have made it and on the other not to have made it, especially at the home of the opponent, surely few would have believed that this scenario was possible. The fact is that handball has shown itself to be a sustainable project, a project with a future,” he said.

Pointing to some renewal in the team, Pedro Roque believes that the number of Portuguese athletes could be between 70 and 80, with qualification for 63 to 67 medal events – 66 have been contracted with the government.

“If we take into account that the quota for the Paris Games has been reduced by 8% compared to what happened in Tokyo, we can say that, in most cases, countries will have fewer athletes. If we manage to maintain the number here or get very close to the number of athletes in individual sports in Paris, we’ll come out with a very, very similar number and that will be an achievement straight away,” he said.

Pedro Roque also believes that there may even be more women than men from Portugal in the French capital between July 26 and August 11, in a Games that point towards parity, recalling that in Tokyo2020 there were already around 46% women in the Mission and 54% men, in a figure inflated by the men’s handball team.

Asked about the possibility of some disciplines, ‘escaping’ from the more traditional ones (athletics, judo and canoeing), to surprise and win medals, Pedro Roque said he believed so, highlighting, among others, the names of cyclist Iúri Leitão, omnium world champion, and skater Gustavo Ribeiro.

“Honestly, we don’t know what’s going to happen in Paris, but the last few years have shown that we have more sports prepared to be able to compete for important places at the Olympic Games, […] and that there are more young athletes dreaming and, more than dreaming, setting that as a goal and not being afraid to go after it. And our country, in this respect, in sporting terms, what we feel is that there is a generation prepared and with a different mentality, with a mentality of not being afraid to reach the top places, not being afraid to be with the best, not being afraid to be one of the best,” he said.

Iris Lavan
Iris Lavan
With a background as a consultant in the medical industry, Iris Lavan brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Portugal Pulse. Iris also runs a company in Tel Aviv offering marketing, business development, content creation and public relations services. She holds a degree in economics and management, giving her a solid grounding in business strategy and financial planning. Iris' commitment to Portugal Pulse is reflected not only in her consulting career, but also in her impact on the Portugale media landscape in Israel. She was an interviewer for Hadshot Portugal חדשות פורטוגל, a media outlet that broadcasts news about Portugal in Hebrew, where she provided valuable information on current affairs, healthcare and the economy. Since July 2023, Iris has also been part of the Portugal Pulse team.

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