Brazil’s Olympic debut: The first Olympic gold medalist

How a yellow jersey is dividing Brazilians

The first Brazilian champion in history was Júlio César, who took silver in the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam. Two years later, his countryman, another great hero, another medal. They also both had to win Olympic gold in Tokyo just to tie up an unprecedented gold medal sweep by the Italian and German teams.

So Brazil won four. It set aside a gold medal for the most beautiful woman in the world, Olinda Barros, but they didn’t medal in the equestrian events. It was the first time in history that an entire country had never won a medal in the Olympics. They’d never won a podium position in all their sporting history, but that, too, was a historical first.

From then on, Brazil’s streak ended. Its countrymen had a chance every four years to break it. In 1956, it finally happened. A young man from the northern city of Recife, Tancredo Neves took the gold in the discus. After the race, he was so overcome with emotion, he collapsed and was carried out and placed on a stretcher.

After the game, the Olympic committee called him and asked: was there anything that stood out for you? He thought it was a comment that he had a huge heart for the underdog. “No, the comment was that I’m a great discus thrower,” he told The Associated Press. He said that, had he won the gold, his mother would have broken down and cried.

Brazil will never be mistaken for a team that wins medals. In the 1960s, Brazil had the most medals (21) of any country in the world. The last Olympic medals for Brazil, and the last for an entire country, were won by men. In the same Rio games, Rio de Janeiro won gold in volleyball (two sets) and, in a record-breaking first for the event, broke men’s and women’s World records.

Now, it appears that the country will break the fourth-placed nation’s streak. In Rio, two-time Olympic champion Alexandre Pato will try to become the first athlete to win gold in all seven of Rio’s sports.

In this corner are the gold medalists, all of whom are men. This is their Olympic debut. Of

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