Gymnasts are divided into two groups: those who hate the rings and those who love them. Brazil’s Arthur Zanetti, the new Olympic gold medalist in the event and Latin America’s first Olympic gymnast to win a medal at all, is in the latter group.
So much has he specialized in this particular event that it is the only one for which he qualified at the London Olympics. He has been completely focused in recent months on improving his performance and routine with the rings, and all his hard work has certainly paid off.
The achievement of the athlete, who is just 156 centimeters (5 feet 1 inch) tall, transcends his victory, given that Rio de Janeiro will be hosting the 2016 Summer Games and Zanetti has now added himself to the list of probable medal winners at the great event on his home turf.
Born 22 years ago in Sao Caetano do Sul, a suburb of Sao Paulo, Zanetti became a fan of gymnastics at age 7. A teacher noticed that although he was small in stature, he was very quick and more agile than his schoolmates, and he recommended to his mother that she take him to join a gymnastics club, the SERC Santa Maria.
He is currently studying physical education and lives in Sao Bernardo do Campo, another city near Sao Paulo.
His first big international success in the discipline was coming in fourth place in the rings at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in 2009, followed in 2010 by a gold medal at the South American Games.
Also in 2010, he underwent an operation on his right shoulder that required four months of recuperation.
The year of his takeoff, however, was 2011, when he won the silver at the Pan American Games and the gold at the Summer Universiade.
And now, Zanetti has become the first Brazilian gymnast to win gold with his victory on Monday in the men’s rings final at the London Olympic Games.
The 22-year-old Zanetti won the event with 15,900 points, edging out Chinese defending champion Chen Yibing with 15,800 and Italy’s Matteo Morandi with 15,733.
Marcos Gotto has coached Zanetti for eight years and broke down in tears of joy when the athlete’s score was announced.
Zanetti places great importance on psychological preparation, and he showed that on Monday by not flinching - either mentally or physically - at his competition, which included Chen; Morandi, the three-time Olympic competitor and European silver medalist; and Bulgaria’s Iordan Iovtchev, a six-time Olympian and multiple medal winner.
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