WALTHAM CROSS, England (Reuters) - There was heartbreak for Brazil’s first ever Olympic canoe slalomist on Monday when Ana Satila’s celebrations for reaching the semi-finals of the K1 competition were cruelly cut short.
The 16-year-old from the state of Parana who trains near the famous Iguacu Falls thought she had finished in the top 15 after a strong second run, but her coach had miscalculated.
She ended up 16th, missing out on Thursday’s semi-finals, which will feature the top 15, by one second.
“It was a very difficult moment when I heard that I had not made it,” Satila, who had painted the Brazilian flag on her fingernails, told reporters alongside her slightly sheepish Italian coach Ettore Ivaldi.
”It was so close and I missed out because of one tiny mistake. But I had a great experience and now I want to inspire more Brazilians to compete in canoe slalom in Rio.
“I’ll be 20 then and a lot more experienced. I want to win gold for Brazil there.”
Satila, who missed a gate in her first run down the 300m man-made river at the Lee Valley White Water centre, paid the price for a brush against a pole that cost her a two-second penalty. “I just barely brushed it,” she said.
Despite her disappointment, the youngest member of Brazil’s 200-odd team will leave the Games with fond memories.
Her efforts will also be remembered by the 12,000 fans who cheered loudly when she paddled into the face of the gushing water on Monday to pass through a gate that she had over-shot.
“I‘m very happy and proud to have been the youngest member of the team but more to represent my country,” said a smiling Satila, whose father was a boxer.
Editing by Ossian Shine