- 11 Jun 2008
- IOC News
Hypólito puts his foot to the floor
“I can say that Diego was born to be a champion, he has a champion’s soul,” says Renato Araujo, coach to 23-year-old Diego Hypólito, the two times world floor exercise champion from Brazil. What makes a champion’s soul is difficult to quantify, but in Hypólito’s case you suspect a combination of conquering adversity and blazing new trails - and having a champion gymnast older sister for inspiration.
Born and raised in the industrial city of Santo André, near São Paulo, when he was eight Hypólito moved to Rio de Janeiro where he began working with Araujo. “He was always a very determined person, always in a good mood,” says Araujo “He is generous too. His family didn´t have a good financial situation when he was a child, and with their gymnastic talent Diego and Daniele have helped.”
First world title
Daniele was the first Brazilian to win a medal at the world championships, finishing second in the floor exercise in 2001, the year Diego became all-round junior national champion. He entered the world championships the following year but had to wait until 2005 for the first of his two world titles, the first Brazilian male to medal at the event.
He came close to successfully defending the following year when he lost out to Romania’s Marian Dragulescu by just 0.100 of a point, but he put it right in 2007 with an exuberant routine full of complicated tumbles which earned him 16.150 points and a second gold medal. “I'm very happy because this is a world championship before the Olympics,” Hypólito said at the time. “It makes me confident that next time I can win.”
But so far 2008 has been unkind to him. In March he had to undergo surgery to repair a modial meniscus rupture in his right knee, and in April he was struck down by the dengue fever virus which affected Brazil but fortunately he recovered after just a few days. Whether these setbacks so close to the Games will affect Hypólito only time will tell, but for the time being his champion’s soul still seems in good shape.