Portugal got four medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020, the best of all times participation for the country. It is a real achievement for a small country, even more given the pandemic, the ensuing crisis, and the reduced public budget allocated to sports education.
Despite the pandemic and the increased hurdles it poses for professional sports, Portugal seems to have confirmed the positive trend of the last couple of years, in which it achieved excellent results in international competitions, both European and World championships, in athletics, for example.
Meet the four Portuguese medal winners, all exceptional athletes who bet their lives on their sporting careers at the highest level, making huge personal sacrifices to fully dedicate themselves to their sport.
Pedro Pichardo, 28 years old, of Cuban origin but naturalised Portuguese, is the owner of the most desired medal: he got the gold in the Triple Jump. Pichardo is now part of a restricted group of five gold Portuguese Olympic medalists, alongside Carlos Lopes, Rosa Mota, Fernanda Ribeiro and Nélson Évora. He’s a Sport Lisboa e Benfica athlete and left Cuba in collision with the country and the national team. Pichardo came to Portugal in 2017 and, with the club and a sponsor's support, he managed to double down on his already distinguished career. Early this year, at the European Indoor Track, he had won the gold medal with a jump of 17.30 m, 26 cm ahead of the competition. Pichardo is trained by his father, Jorge Pichardo, and holds the promise of more triple jump medals in the future.
Patrícia Mamona, 32, is a silver medalist in women's Triple Jump in this edition of the Games. She is a Sporting Clube de Portugal athlete since 2011 and is coached by José Uva. Mamona got discovered at 12 years old while participating in school sports. Between 2002 and 2010, she represented the modest Juventude Operária do Monte Abraão, a local club to where she used to live. In 2008, Patrícia went to Clemson University, in the US state of South Carolina, to study medicine, while competing on the American university circuit. In 2012, at the European outdoors championship, the Portuguese was awarded a silver medal in the triple jump event. In 2016, at the European Athletics Championship in Amsterdam, she jumped 14.58 meters, winning the gold medal and setting a new national record for women's triple jump. In 2021, Patrícia won the gold medal in the indoors European Athletics Championship.
Jorge Fonseca, 28 years old, won the bronze medal in -100 kg Judo. After two world titles, the very first in the history of Portuguese judo, and a bronze in the Europeans, this Sporting Clube de Portugal athlete secured his first Olympic medal in Tokyo (he was 17th in Rio 2016). Born on the island of São Tomé and Príncipe, the athlete came to Portugal when he was 11 years old. He started training judo in the outskirts of Lisbon, where he met his trainer, Pedro Soares. In 2019, Jorge became the sport's world champion, being the first Portuguese ever to achieve it. In 2021, he won the World Championship again, this time in Budapest.
Fernando Pimenta, 32, is the bronze medal winner of this Games K1 1000 m canoeing event.
Ack in September 2020, Pimenta had won the 100th international medal of his career, when he got the gold for K1 5,000 m in the Szeged World Speed Cup, in Hungary. The athlete secured a place for himself in Portuguese sports history on his debut at the Olympic Games back in 2021, in London, where alongside Emanuel Silva he got the silver medal in the K2 1,000 m event. Four years later, in Rio 2016, the Portuguese canoeist competed for solo and was 5th in the K1 1000 final. Fernando Pimenta's international career is filled with lots of medals in all major competitions, from the Canoeing World Cup to the European Championship, World Championship, and European Games. Back in 2013, at Kazan, he won the gold medal for both the K1 500 m and K1 1,000 m events.
Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), praised all athletes at the end of this difficult year's Games: “They inspired us with the unifying power of sport and this is noteworthy given the challenges they had to face because of the pandemic, and they offered the world the most precious gift: hope”. IOC's president left a very special thanks to the organizing committee for not giving up on the event even when facing a pandemic.
Seiko Hashimoto, president of the organizing committee of the Games, stated that “the Olympic Games in Tokyo are proof of all your energy and love for the sport. The athletes faced an unimaginable situation and showed that they are true Olympic athletes”.