Batista part of Brazil's rowing future
It is two years to go until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The rowing venue is being prepared and Brazilian rowers are making their presence felt at various international rowing events.
Competing at the 2014 World Rowing Junior Championships in Hamburg, Germany are three Brazilian athletes; David Doeira Souza and Alef Da Rosa in the junior men's pair and Uncas Batista in the junior men's single sculls.
Batista is perhaps the most experienced of the team. He comes from the city of Belo Horizonte, but now lives in Rio de Janeiro, where he moved to when he was 13 years old. Batista describes himself as a reformed video game fanatic. "I was going to school and then playing video games at home the rest of the time," says Batista. "I had to pass in front of the rowing club twice a day to go to school, so one time I decided to stop at the club and give it a go." Batista's club is Botafogo Rowing Club on the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas - the venue for the Rio Olympic Games Rowing Regatta.
Now 17 years old, Batista is competing in his first international season on the Brazilian rowing team. Competing in the single, Batista is currently on his way to the quarterfinals. To warm up for the World Rowing Junior Championships, Batista competed in the World Rowing Under 23 Championships last month in Varese. He raced in the lightweight single and finished eleventh overall.
Since Rio won the rights to host the 2016 Olympics, Batista says that the government set up a programme to promote all Olympic sports in the country. Rowing has been part of this programme so has received a boost. The government has also encouraged athletes by giving money if they achieve at the national, world or Olympic level.
"There is more interest in rowing now that the Olympics are coming," says Batista. "It's great. But I really hope that the Olympics will help in the long term to make rowing more popular in all of South America."
Rowing, says Batista, still has a long way to go to gain general popularity. Batista explains, "In Rio people know it and usually like it as the Lagoa (the 2016 Olympic regatta course, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas) is in the centre of the city. But it is not as popular as in the 1950s when people would come to the Lagoa to watch the big clubs fighting each other in rowing before going to the Maracana Stadium to watch the football."
The Olympics have come too soon for Batista, but he looks forward to continuing to the next Olympic Games. "My goal is to progress as much as I can and my dream is to win an Olympic medal," he says.
Batista will get a taste of the Olympics as he will compete in the Youth Olympic Games later this month in Nanjing, China. He will fly directly from Hamburg to Nanjing where he will compete in the men's single over the distance of 1000m.
Outside of rowing Batista is a student in mathematics and during the racing season he is able to take time off for rowing.
Interview thanks to Vincent Giorgis