The Portuguese sports scenario is no longer what it was, when hope for success lied mostly on football, on the occasional roller hockey victory or on a surprise coming from athletics. In the last years, the outlook has improved a lot. Today, whatever the competition in which Portugal participates, there are athletes with sufficient talent to compete with any opponent!
This is reflected in the number of titles collected and in the series of excellent results that Portuguese athletes have been achieving internationally. We’ve already addressed this matter in other articles exploring some old glories in Portuguese sports and the Portuguese path to victory in the 2016 European Football Championship.
Nowadays, there are Portuguese athletes that know how to kick the ball with excellence AND how to kick opponents brilliantly. Nowadays, the net doesn't have to be at the end of the pitch, it can ALSO be in the middle of the court. Over the last ten years, we must highlight:
- Ricardinho (futsal): Ricardinho has been a genius without comparison on the indoor floors for years now. There is football in his DNA and, coupled with that, surreal skills and a sort of pact with gravity that allows him to shoot from impossible angles. He made his mark in the Portuguese European Champion title in 2018, has won three UEFA Futsal Cups, and has been acclaimed Best Player in the World of Futsal for five years in a row. It's no wonder that we dare to name Ricardinho the best player ever in this sport.
- Fernando Pimenta (canoeing): There's a Portuguese superhero on the water tracks. He is Fernando Pimenta and he has an insatiable appetite for titles: Pimenta is a World champion in distances as different as 1000 meters and 5000 meters. To his three World Champion titles he adds five gold medals in European Championships and an Olympic silver medal won in 2012 together with Emanuel Silva (another grand champion). Fernando Pimenta is present at international podiums at a pace most of us only drink coffee. Will he be the first Portuguese athlete to win an Olympic gold medal outside athletics? We'll know soon.
- Marcos Freitas (table tennis): Is the most visible face of Portugal's amazing competitive leap in this sport. He and Tiago Apolónia made the country dream of medals in the 2012 Olympic Games. In 2014, they achieved the unprecedented title of European Teams Champion; as they fought for the top places in the subsequent years, they proved that was not a unique event. Be it in singles, pairs or teams, Marcos Freitas can often be seen with a medal around its neck at a European level. He is only lacking the world podium for the celebration to be absolute.
- Jorge Fonseca (judo): The tremendous Telma Monteiro gave it multiple tries: four finals lost in World Championships. Still, Jorge Fonseca was the first Portuguese to become a World Champion and, amazingly, at the Mecca of the sport, Tokyo, and at its greatest cathedral, Nippon Budokan. His achievement is even more remarkable if we take into account that just over three years before that, Jorge Fonseca was fighting against an oncological disease that he also took down by ippon. In 2019, Jorge Fonseca played a major role in winning the second consecutive European Clubs Champion title for Sporting CP. Like Fernando Pimenta, Jorge Fonseca also has a chance to become the first Olympic Portuguese champion outside athletics. More than faith, talent and hard work play a role when going for the highest Olympic glory.
- Inês Henriques (athletics): It would be great for Portugal's Olympic aspirations if the women's 50 km race walk would become an Olympic event... In Inês, Portugal would have a strong candidate for the medals, possibly for the gold. Inês became a 50km race walk World Champion at the age of 37, in 2017. The Portuguese marcher got a taste for gold and the following year she did it again, winning the gold medal at the Berlin European Championship. It's not by chance that she is part of this list!
- Telma Monteiro (judo): Very few judo athletes can reach out with their hand held high and say they are a five-time European Champion. But that is exactly what Telma Monteiro did in 2015, at the European Games in Baku. If you wish to count the number of times she went on the podium at the three biggest competitions - Olympic, World and European Games -, you'll need a helping hand or two: Telma won twenty medals! When, after several ordeals, she finally won her first Olympic medal - the bronze medal, at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games -, entire country was moved. It was the culmination of a fantastic winning career.
- Rui Bragança (taekwondo): Bragança deserves more media coverage than what he has been given. Two gold medals at the European Taekwondo Championships and one gold medal at the 2015 European Games in Baku command respect. And now that he is 100% dedicated to his sporting speciality, with his role as a medical professional on hold, he is very likely to reach even higher.
- Cristiano Ronaldo (football): His contribution to the world of football is undeniable. In the last decade, playing for the Portuguese national team, he became the player with the most international caps and the best goal scorer of the team, with more than twice the goals (99) than the number 2 striker, Pauleta (47). The individual performance of the Madeiran legend has decisively helped push Portugal toward a historic decade, which includes the unprecedented European Championship title in 2016 and the newly created UEFA Nations League in 2019. If Portugal's presence at the final stages of the most significant continental and world competitions is now normal, Cristiano for sure played a decisive role. Cristiano Ronaldo has performed at superhero levels for over 12 years. It would almost be heresy not to include him in this list!
Significant investment in infrastructures and a long-term strategy, working with athletes from a young age, always bring good results. Portugal is one such case! Today, Portugal has some of the best and most advanced sports infrastructures in the world! That is one of the reasons why Move Sports chooses to organise its sports tours, training camps and tournaments in Portugal: so athletes, be it from Portugal or abroad, can improve and evolve their talents to the most of their abilities. Move Sports is dedicated to playing his part in bringing sports to new heights.