Days later, he also won the final of the 1,500m T11, with the right to break the world record after closing the race in 3min57s60, winning the 100th gold medal in the history of Brazil in the Paralympics.
Yeltsin is an athlete from the Sports Association for the Disabled (ADD), a non-profit institution that has been working in São Paulo since 1996 to include people with disabilities in sports, encouraging, among other areas, the training of high-performance athletes.
In addition to the athlete, ADD is represented by two other competitors in Tokyo: Vinícius Rodrigues, world record holder for the 100m sprint T63, and Ariosvaldo Fernandes, o Parré, a 44-year-old veteran, who competes in some events in the T53 class, for wheelchair users.
They have in common the support of ‘Jogo do Bem’, an initiative of Betsul, a sports betting site with strong appeal to the Brazilian market. Part of the profit obtained by the brand is divided among several institutions that promote the sport, being ADD one of them. The nomination was made by basketball idol Oscar Schmidt.
“Jogo do Bem came at an extremely important moment. I had never seen a similar program and this help to ADD is essential to maintain the maintenance of high performance athletes as well as for the formation of children,” said Eliane, director of the institution. “I hope this partnership lasts for a long time,” she added.
It was with the support of ‘Jogo de Bem’ that the association made it possible for Yeltsin to take an extra guide athlete to Tokyo, a request made by the medalist himself. In class T11, competitors are required to be accompanied by a guide athlete throughout the race, but may choose to take one more.
They take turns so that it doesn't disturb the athlete's pace, even more in a long race like the 5,000m. Parré also traveled to Japan more prepared because of the support provided by ‘Jogo do Bem’.
On the eve of presenting himself to Team Brazil, the athlete did not have a spare tire for his wheelchair, at the risk of this affecting his participation. With the support it received, ADD was able to finance a reserve, which costs more than R$50,000, as Eliane explained.
The focus is on social inclusion
Despite having a high performance program, the main objective of ADD is to train people with disabilities independently through sport. The entry point for most of them is during childhood.
“We were pioneers in creating the first sports school in Brazil. Our goal is not just to discover talent. We know it can come, but the goal is for that child to become independent. Finish your studies, get to graduate, work on what you want, be independent. Out of 100 children, 99 will reach this goal and one will be the talent that will emerge. The opportunity (which we give) is the most important,” says Eliane.
It was through this opportunity that a worldwide phenomenon of Paralympic swimming emerged: Daniel Dias, owner of 27 medals in Paralympic Games.
"We introduced him to swimming. He couldn't swim. He has a natural talent. I remember that he entered the first class on a buoy,” says Eliane. “We have a contracted technical body (teachers, coordinators), trained people behind us. The teacher saw that she had potential,” she continued.
“No company wants to sponsor someone just because they have potential, so the role of ADD is fundamental for them not to give up. This is the reality of so many others. I am happy to know that Jogo do Bem helps other institutions, not just ours. They didn't want to sponsor an athlete, but the institution as a whole,” she concluded.