John Gregory | @gregiej | Photography: Neil Proctor | Sportscene - If 2013 was an evening with the Brazilian Canoe Slalom team, then the Rio test event could be the warm-up breakfast before the lunch banquet along the Deodoro course next summer.
Back in the Prague hotel, we interviewed the team with a little under three years before the next Olympic Champions would be crowned in canoe slalom. We have continued to follow their progress from Prague, Deep Creek, Foz U23 Worlds, Pan Am Games, Lee Valley and Olympic test event. “They have clear aspirations to represent their country at the Rio Olympics and push for qualification to the finals", I said at the time. Here is the new portrait with help from Neil Proctor.
The Brazilian Canoe Slalom team remains a young, highly passionate and motivated team who have high expectations for the future. At London 2012, Ana Satila was the youngest female paddler competing at the Olympics. More recently at the ICF Aquece Olympic event, Satila, now 19, made the final. This is only her second senior K1W final, with the first being the 2015 World Cup final in Pau.
So what does it feel like to be the face of canoe slalom in Brazil? “First of all, I'm happy with my actuation on the test event, I felt great the whole race and there is nothing better than racing at home, really good vibes in Rio. The result was amazing in the first heats and semifinals, just doing what I know and nothing special, so we are closer than ever to get good results in 2016”, says the ever chirpy Satila.
Outside Brazil, Satila has caught many peoples’ attention around the sport. Here is what Germany’s 1992 Olympic Champion, Lisa Micheler-Jones had to say “I have Ana on my radar since a few years, although I know her not personally. I saw her first time paddling as a 15-year-old teenage girl 2012 at the World Cup in Augsburg and in the same year at the Olympics in London, introduced at the youngest female Paddler competing at the Olympics. And I have to say, the improvement that she made in slalom in these four years is impressive. She has worked very hard on the technical and physical side. Strong minded, she is very determined to be successful in her paddling career and she is on a good way to do this at her home Olympics 2016 in Rio. In my opinion one of her advantages in making such quick progress is working with a superb coach, former Italian K1M Ettore Ivaldi. Also having the chance to race from the beginning in big events like World Cups and World Championships. So she could learn and improve from each race and compare with the good women in the K1 as well in the C1 class. That made her improve fast. Now she comes to a stage in paddling, where she is no more in the hunt.”
Coach and manager Ettore Ivaldi a silver medallist at the ’89 Savage Worlds in K1M Team with Marco Caldera and another ’92 Olympic Champion Pierpaolo Ferrazzi. Technical coach, Guille Diez-Canedo continues; “The team is already based in Rio, trying to get the best of Deodoro course. The structure after the games should be alike to the one the Brits have, maybe having the main team in Deodoro, and a younger structure in Foz. Foz and Itaipu have been key in our development, so we'll always have that in mind. I think Brazil can have one of the world's best structures for training and racing with this two courses combined. It can be a great destination for foreign athletes for European-winter training too."
Brazilian Canoe Slalom team highlights:
ICF World Ranking in the Olympic classes
- K1W Satila has advanced consistently from 69th at the end of 2012 to 25th by the end of 2015.
- Back in 2012 the Brazilian team had no ranked C2 crew. Charles Correa & Anderson Oliviera now sit just outside the top 30.
- The team has also made massive strides with Felipe da Silva ranked 62nd and Leonardo Curcel 67th in C1M and K1M respectively.
2015 Pan Am Games in Minden
- Brazil were 2nd in the medal table behind USA.
- Satila won the heat, semi and final in C1W. Watch out Tokyo 2020!
- The young Brazilian team took heat wins from Pepe Da Silva, Satila and Correa/Oliviera.
ICF 2015 Junior & U23 Worlds in Foz
- Pepe Da Silva and Charles Correa & Anderson Oliveira winning the respective U23 heats in K1M and C2.
- Brazil went on to place 9 boats in the individual U23 finals and 2 more in the Junior finals.
- Satila made the C1W final in Lee Valley, the first member of the current team to make a Worlds final.
- Brazil placed three boats in the semi-finals at the Deep Creek Worlds.
All this demonstrates that this still young team is really developing a depth of talent. They are very much motivating each other and will become an increasing force to be reckoned with for the future.
Brazil has yet to win a medal at a Senior level at World Championships or Olympics. As host Olympic nation they will have one boat in each class. Satila rounded up; “[The] Brazilian team is feeling very stoked, we are in a good and special time, we have an Olympic course at home, already my favourite, so now we have everything, we just need to keep focused, train harder than ever and believe in ourselves... 2016 will be our year and we'll be ready!!”
“I wish her all the best at the Rio Olympics and it would be nice to see her on the podium”, adds Micheler-Jones in reference to Satila.
It was not so long ago that Satila celebrated a commanding win to become ICF 2014 Junior K1W World Champion. “I cannot believe it. It is a dream. I am so happy”, she said at the time. Given that there is a very high historical correlation between Junior World Champions and future Olympic medallist - you wouldn’t bet against her on her home course!