By Neha Aggarwal
Hu-GO! Hu-GO! Hu-GO! The packed crowd chanted at the Rio Centro Pavilion 3 during the 2016 Olympic Games a month ago. Hugo Calderano from Brazil was the star attraction as he became the first Brazilian to reach the last 16 stage in Men’s Singles competition at the Olympic Games.
Fast forward to the 2016 Liebherr Men’s World Cup to be held at Saarbrücken, Germany from 1-3rd October 2016, will Hugo be able to repeat the newly found success?
The superstar at home
The 20-year old enjoys a unique stardom home. At Rio during the Olympic Games, Hugo won millions of hearts as he played one of the best table tennis of his life so far.
He beat the then World number 16 Tang Peng (HKG) 4-2 in the round of 32 to make it to the last 16. The Brazilian bowed down to the bronze medalist Jun Mizutani in a well fought 6 game thriller.
“After the Olympics I felt many brazilian people got interested in table tennis and started to follow my career and even to play! It was a good moment to show how our sport is interesting and exciting.” – Hugo Calderano
His success at Rio took over Twitter as the hashtags #GoHugo and #HugoCalderano were trending on 7th and 8th August 2016. Hugo has now become a local hero and household name.
From young kids idolizing him to female fans stalking him all over social media, Hugo now has millions eyeing him. His success at the international stage makes the sport of table tennis further popular in Latin America.
Does this stardom feels pressurizing?
The Latin American Cup winner expresses his confidence, “I don’t feel any pressure, I’m practicing very hard and I’m confident that I’ll get to where I want. And if there will ever be a pressure on me, I’ll enjoy it, because that’s a part of sport which can help us to get even stronger.”
This millennial really knows how to keep his calm, he is focused and has been practicing hard to make is debut appearance at the Liebherr 2016 Men’s World Cup.
“In a normal day I practice around 6 hours, with some physical training as well. I’ve been practicing in Ochsenhausen since the end of August with my teammates Simon Gauzy, Jakub Dyjas, Yuto Muramatsu and João Geraldo and some other great young players” explained Hugo.
Playing the league games nearly every weekend has boosted up the preparations for the upcoming challenge. Hugo is confident of a stupendous performance, he said, “I’m feeling ready for the World Cup.”
Commenting on his debut appearance at Saarbrücken, Hugo further elaborated:
“It’s great to play such an important tournament with great players and I’ll give my best to do a great competition.”
Jump in rankings
His success at Rio helped him make a giant leap as he moved from world ranked number 54 in August 2016 to number 31 in September 2016. “It’s definitely a great jump that gave me a lot of motivation, especially it coming from the Olympics” said Hugo.
However, the challenge is intense. He has 14 players ranked above him. It definitely gives him an opportunity to make some surprises, but being one of the most important tournaments of the year, all the players are geared up to put up their best show.
The world awaits to watch the dynamic 6 feet tall, Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games bronze medalist and Brazilian sensation making waves at the Liebherr 2016 Men’s World Cup.
Are you ready?