World Champion in Paracanoe dreams of gold at the Tokyo Games

Amid the pandemic, the Brazilian Luís Carlos Cardoso trains at home


The canoeist Luís Carlos Cardoso is guaranteed at the Paralympics in Tokyo (Japan), the second in the athlete’s career. The confirmation came last August, when he won the world title in the Canoe event, category VL2 200 meters, held in Szeged (Hungary). The Brazilian completed the course in 51s68.

During the live broadcast held on the official account of the Brazilian Canoe Confederation (CBCa), on Instagram, last Monday (8), the canoeist told how he has been preparing for the unprecedented achievement of a medal at the Tokyo Games, postponed until next year.

“In Rio de Janeiro [Rio 2016], I was only six hundredths of the gold away. Now my big dream is to win that medal” dreams Luís Carlos, who at the 2016 Games was fourth (51s63). The fastest in the 200 m KL1 kayak race – category for athletes with little or no functioning legs and torso – was the Polish Jakub Tokarz (51sec08), and the Hungarian Robert Suba (51s12) took the silver. Briton Ian Marsden (51sec22) came in third and took the bronze.

For a different effect in Tokyo, not even a new coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) was able to take or track him off the trail. “In the first few weeks, I was a little shocked. But it is useless to keep complaining. The thing was to take advantage of this time and improve my performance. I always say that the biggest limitation is not physical, it is mental”.

According to the athlete, the training routine was completely affected. The waters of the Billings Dam, where the athlete used to train had to be left aside. “I try to avoid leaving the house as much as possible. With the distance monitoring of my multidisciplinary team, I am doing my best to keep myself in shape. This will pass. So, it is important to stay focused to get better in the future”, he advises.


Until 2009, Luís Carlos’ life was dedicated to dance. “It was nine years. I traveled a lot doing shows with forró [traditional Brazilian music] bands. I danced with Frank Aguiar’s group”, he recalls. But in December 2009, he became paraplegic after contracting schistosomiasis. While he was bedridden, he suffered another blow: the death of his mother. “She was always my number one fan. Everything indicated that I should stop, give up …”. But that was when the sport entered the life of Luís. “The Paracanoe brought me back the joy I felt on stage. I started with physiotherapy. I wanted to recover. It was love at first sight.”

The first competitions were in 2011. And since then he has not stopped collecting medals and stories, as in 2012, at the World Cup in Poznan (Poland). “It was the first international trip. I had put on a permanent probe. I had hemorrhage and ended up competing with points. A lot of pain. But thank God, the silver medal came.”

Two years later, in 2014, at the Moscow World Cup in Russia, Luís Carlos faced other problems, before taking the podium. “I stretched my arm a lot and hurt my rib. I could not be medicated because of anti-doping. I went to the final anyway and won the gold. It was only in Brazil that I found out that I had fractured the rib.”

In 2015, at the Milan tournament in Italy, two golds, one of them unexpected. “I was only training to compete in the Canoe. But at the beginning of the year, it was decided that only kayaking would be part of the Rio Games. It was not easy, but I got to the gold after just six months of training”, remember.