Brazilian athletes flew through the final Olympic test event ahead of Rio 2016 on the new and “very fast” track at the Olympic stadium on 14-16 May. Team Brazil recorded impressive times in the women’s 400m and men’s 400m hurdles as well as winning gold and silver in the men’s 800m at their new home stadium.The bright blue running track at the 60,000-capacity arena was tested for the first time during the Ibero-Americanos Championship, which doubled up as an Olympic qualifying event.
Lord Sebastian Coe, a double Olympic 1,500m gold medallist and now President of the IAAF, was in Rio to observe the test event and he said he expected records to be broken when the Games start on 5 August. “It’s a very fast surface,” said Lord Coe. “So, with a full stadium of noisy, passionate track and field fans, the athletes will raise their game and rise to the occasion.”
Along with the track at the stadium, known as the Engenhão, the event was also an opportunity to test the timing system, track scores and the transmission of results. It was also the first time that the competition had been open to athletes from non-Portuguese and Spanish-speaking countries.
Among those to test the speed of the new track was Kleberson Davide, who won silver in the 800m. Davide suffered disappointment in London 2012 when he missed out because of a virus but said this time around, he is raring to go. “I was running behind for a long time and was always having trouble with injuries,” the 30-year-old said. “Now it’s gone. I will keep working. I never let my head drop and now the reward is coming.” He finished with a time of 1:45.79 behind his fellow Brazilian, Lutimar Paes, who took gold, and now has a chance to make up for London.
“I had a fever, spent a day in the hospital and was ruled out by the doctor,” Davide said. “It was one of the biggest disappointments in my life. I fought so hard to get there and I couldn’t enter the track. Now I get the chance to write a different history,” he added.