After a career performance at last month’s Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, the versatile Francisco Barretto and his countrymen are focusing on a new mission: qualifying a full team to next summer’s Olympics in Tokyo.
The Brazilian men’s A-team, including Barretto, 2012 Olympic rings champion Arthur Zanetti, 2016 Olympic floor medalist Arthur Nory, Pan American Games all-around champion Caio Souza and newcomer Luis Porto romped to team gold in Lima over an inexperienced U.S. men’s team and a rejuvenated Canadian squad, which climbed back onto the team podium for the first time since 1999.
It was an emotional experience for all, especially Barretto, whose whose wins on pommel horse and high bar gave him three golds from Lima, the most of any gymnast at the Pan American Games.
“My whole gymnastics career flashed before my eyes, basically,” he said. “It was some kind of film. All those years that I’ve spent in the sport, all the years I have been battling with injuries, bad competitions and all that.”
The Brazilian men finished seventh as a team at last year’s World Championships, well within striking distance of what they’ll need to make a return trip to the Olympics next July. The seasoned team can count on big numbers and boosted confidence in Stuttgart, including from Zanetti, who though upset by Mexico’s Fabian de Luna for the rings title in Lima, vowed to come back stronger.
“Of course I am very happy with the team result, because we won gold,” Zanetti said. “But I am not satisfied with my personal results here. Right now, I need to focus on the World Championships. There is a lot of work to do. There is an Olympic ticket at stake. That’s what I need to think about now. I need to do better.”
Barretto credits the deep experience of the Brazilian men as crucial to their success in Stuttgart. “At Lima 2019 we showed that we are able to perform well and consistently. That is very important,” he said. “It’s now time to evaluate everything and put our minds towards the World Championships. That’s where we want to qualify for the Olympics as a team. We’re taking it step by step.”
The Brazilian men are a balanced team with several big names. All-arounders Souza and Pan American silver medalist Nory even out strong event specialists like Zanetti. "There is still a lot to work on. In terms of execution, but also in difficulty,” Nory said. “I continue to work hard, because we always have new goals and new objectives. Each time we want to improve a little bit.”
"This sport is my whole life,” Barretto added. "It’s a beautiful sport, but we have to sacrifice a lot. We train six times a week, almost six hours a day. We do a lot to always deliver. But it doesn’t always work out. But when it does, we can get very emotional."