by Wade Townsend
This time one year ago Hugo Calderano was making his mark on the Rio Olympic Games; so much so that #HugoCalderano and #GoHugo were trending on Twitter.
“It was an amazing experience to play in front of a big and supportive crowd like that,” says Calderano.
He had won over the fans and they backed him all the way.
The boy from Brazil had upstaged the visitors, making sure they knew they were on his turf. He had defeated both Pär Gerell and Tang Peng in succession during the games.
“The Rio Olympic Games were the highest point of my career so far.” Hugo Calderano
After Calderano had taken down Tang Peng, the No.11 seed, coach Jean-René Mounié was full of nothing but praise for his player; “I think that must be just about the best that Hugo has played; I am really proud of him and so very impressed with the way he played tonight.”
Two years earlier Calderano had won bronze at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games. In front of a home crowd he graduated to the senior ranks.
The experience of Rio has been lasting for Calderano. A year on and he is still on the rise. The Brazilian didn’t let the opportunity slip and has taken full advantage of the momentum he received during his Olympic campaign.
“Since then I’ve managed to get closer to the best players in the world.”
But it’s not just on the table that his life has been impacted. Brazil still loves Calderano.
“I got more media attention. I even get recognised on the street sometimes.”
But the purpose of the Olympic Games isn’t just about putting on a spectacular show. It also enables sports to grow, giving them increased exposure and allowing them to develop. The young star is hoping the Olympic Games was the springboard table tennis needed to give the sport a boost.
“Table tennis in Brazil got more popular. I hope we can use the Olympic Games in our country to make our sport more popular in Brazil.” Hugo Calderano
Calderano served as the perfect spokesman for the sport in Rio, and continues to lead the way for Brazilian table tennis one year on.