Against racism and patriarchy, the South American golds that shook Tokyo

The nostalgia that always runs through the body once the magic of the Olympic Games is over, was turned upside down after the end of this edition. And it is that added to the volatile and ephemeral thing that is passing in these fast times and of social networks, The Olympic hangover had to live with the sequence that fired Lionel Messi from Barcelona and deposited it at PSG, in a few hours in which tears, millions of euros and advertising marketing coexisted in its most finished versions. Here goes then, with a cold head, slow and nostalgic, the vindication of a recent, beautiful and valuable memory: that of the golds of three South American women who made history at Tokyo 2020, with spectacular sporting achievements that were also shaking the sexist and racist foundations of these lands.

A leap of pride

To begin with the highest Latin American glory that was seen in Japanese lands, it is necessary to talk about the feat of the Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas, who embraced in Tokyo the only world record that the region broke in a Games that broke 20 historical records. The athlete born in Caracas scored a historical record of 15.67 meters in the triple jump event, on his sixth and last attempt, that destroyed the 15.50 that the Ukrainian Inessa Kravetsgo had established in 1995, when the Venezuelan had not even reached the world.

The numbers of the best tripler in the world are not only spectacular at a sporting level. Also because her feat, the highest of an Olympic edition especially good for the region, is a significant platform for what the 25-year-old Venezuelan represents. And is that the powerful body of Yulimar Rojas not only embodies athletic excellence, but also it is the material support of a militancy that is consistent with the nickname of the two-time world champion, who is known as “La Guerrera”.

And it is that Rojas has not only stood up against racism, that structural paradigm that the athlete once defined with precision as “the indescribable”, in reference to the micromanages behind the most obvious violence. The young woman from Caracas is also recognized for being the flag of the struggles carried out by the LGBT + movement. And it is she herself who has put her non-heteronormative sexual orientation on the table, although not only to put her body in a fight that urges for visibility and rights.

“My orientation, my sexuality has always been important to me and to my career -he told in an interview to The country-. Since I started sports, I have always tried to fight for the ideologies and rights of women and the LGBT community. It is also a leap so that love and life are respected, the desire to love and to be loved is respected, and human rights are valued every day. Dreams can also be fulfilled in this, whatever you are or whoever you love, and that despite people who think that because you love a person of the same sex or because you love that way you cannot achieve what you set out to do ” And it is that just as she breaks world records, the smiling Venezuelan of almost two meters cracks with a pure jump, also, the cells that the patriarchy naturalizes.

An earthquake to the rhythm da favela

South America was able to vibrate in a big way in Tokyo, thanks to the generosity of its athletes. The truth is that there were two other golds that, in addition to squeezing the heart, also went further in their mobilized senses. It is neither more nor less than the golden medals conquered by Brazilian Rebeca Andrade and by Ecuadorian Neisi Dajomes, black athletes whose caresses to the maximum sporting glory were celebrated loudly by the Afro-descendant communities that, day by day, continue to see their rights violated in the region.

The Rebeca Andrade thing has not only been moving. It has also been a pioneer: her silver in the All Around and her gold in the jumper are the first medals in artistic gymnastics achieved by a Latin American athlete. The truth is that the 22-year-old from São Paulo, the daughter of a domestic worker who raised her alone along with seven other children in the working neighborhood of Guarulhos, barely mobilized elected Favela dance as the song for your floor performance: it is a trace of popular Brazilian funk, Identity trait par excellence of the poorest neighborhoods of the giant South American country.

“This funk portrays a Brazilian rality because, sometimes, the dance in the favela is a refuge where to have fun, smile, forget the sorrows and problems. It is a party”, explained Rhony Ferreira, choreographer of the medalist, in dialogue with the portal G1 of his country. But not only that excited the wonderful performance of Andrade. With the ever-living memory of Marielle Franco, who died three years ago murdered and fighting for the rights of black women in the favelas, also moved that that first gold medal was carried by an Afro-descendant gymnast to Brazil, justly the last american country (and one of the last in the world) in having abolished slavery and one who fights one of the fiercest struggles against its much-denied structural racism.

“The first Olympic medal for artistic gymnastics is for a black woman and that is very strong. For a long time they said that blacks couldn’t be gymnasts, they couldn’t compete in some sports. It has a lot of meaning behind it, “celebrated Daiane Dos Santos, world champion of the discipline between 2003 and 2006, in her role as commentator on TV Globo. The historic singer Elza Soares was another of those who raised her fist for Rebeca: “It is a black breast that bears the first medal of the Brazilian Olympic gymnastics. It is the favela that offers a dance to the world. She is Rebeca Andrade, a black girl, of humble origin, raised by a single mother, a warrior, another Brazilian like so many of us. It’s a really good slap at racism. “

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The weight of freedom

The last in the sequence is no less powerful; on the contrary. It is Ecuadorian Neisi Dajomes, who became the first woman from her country to hang an Olympic medal. The 23-year-old weightlifter, weightlifter, lifted a total of 263 kilos (118 snatch and 145 clean and jerk), to climb to the top of the podium in Tokyo in the 76 kg category. But his achievement transcends sports and vibrates systemic structures that imprison bodies and subjectivities. Why? Because Neisi Dajomes is Afro, she is a woman and she gave her country the third gold in its entire history.

A UN report that is less than two years old recalls that, Although Afro-Ecuadorians constitute only 7.2% of the population of their country, they represent 40% of those who live in conditions of poverty.. If to these data we add the structural inequality to which women are subjected, it does not even take imagination to understand the gold of Neisi Dajomes in its powerful symbolic dimension: the one that refers to the Afro people, who survive the violence of racism rooted in the region and whose daily struggles they see in weightlifting, with its sacrificial maneuvers and strong resistance, a fairly faithful metaphor of your reality.

Those who had the joy of seeing the native of Shell, a small town in the Ecuadorian province of Pastaza, in action, will have noticed the turban that wore the colors of his nation and, at the same time, gathered his hair. Just as Tamara Salazar, also a lifter and also Ecuadorian, took hers to Tokyo, who hung the silver medal in the 87-kilo test. The powerful cultural senses of the ancestral element that stood out during their Olympic work are redefined in the present and their entire history was dimensioned with the visibility they gained by getting on the podium in Japan.

It is explained by the communicator Whitney Rodríguez, on the portal Wambra: “The fact that today, 170 years after the abolition of slavery in Ecuador, black women wear a turban has a very powerful meaning of resistance in front of a system that has been built to discriminate and violate them because they are black women. Many times they have been forced to modify their Afro phenotypic traits to be accepted in white societies, which prevent them from developing as subjects of law and obtaining decent jobs, housing and education “.

Neisi Dajomes wears her turban knowing all those significant crosses that she braids alongside her hair to look proud on the Olympic podium. “The turban has to do with this root, with being Afro, which means a lot to me -the Ecuadorian champion reflected, in dialogue with Trade, upon returning-. But personally, wearing the turban means much more. It means the strength of a girl, the strength of a woman and showing that, although we do a sport characterized by men, we women can do it. And we can do it in the best way. The Selection that went to the Olympic Games was female, it was not a single man, and the four of us did a good performance. Strength, character and bravery is what works and that’s what the turban means to me. Together with Tamara, we have broken all the schemes that women cannot do many things: it was demonstrated, with these two weightlifting medals, that women are strong and that we can do everything we set out to do in life. “

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