Jenifer do Nascimento Silva made history once again at São Silvestre. For the second consecutive year, the athlete reached the podium of the traditional street race in São Paulo: this time, with a fourth place. It was the best result obtained by a Brazilian in this competition. After going up to the podium to receive the award, the runner paid tribute to Edson Arantes do Nascimento, the King Pelewho died, aged 82, on the last day 29.
“Unfortunately I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing Pelé play. But, in recent days, I’ve seen many tributes paid to him. Without a doubt, he is an athlete who inspires and motivates us due to the history he has had in the sport. He certainly made the sport in Brazil grow a lot and he was one of the best known athletes in the world. So, for us, he is a reference”, said the Brazilian athlete, in a press conference given shortly after the end of the race. “I believe that all athletes will remember what he represented for the country”, she added.
Pelé was the great honoree of São Silvestre this year. The tributes for him began with the race announcer talking about the athlete and continued throughout the course of the race.
One of those who decided to run with a shirt from the Brazilian soccer team bearing the name of Pelé printed on the chest and back, for example, was Rodrigo Michelino, 48 years old, who lives in São Paulo and participated in São Silvestre for the first time.
“Love football. My father saw Pelé play on the field many times. And then I thought of a tribute, since I love the selection. Pelé is the king, he is eternal and yesterday I had this idea [da homenagem]. I bought the t-shirt and my daughter who painted it [o nome do Pelé]”, he said, noting that Pelé helped him complete the race. “Of course, at times I shouted his name and people on the street joked with the name Pelé. So, he was with me in that race”, said Michelino, in an interview with the Brazil Agency.
Kelly Maia, 35, who also ran wearing a Brazilian team shirt in honor of Pelé, participated in São Silvestre for the first time. “It’s for King Pelé. He deserves. Edson passed away, but Pelé is eternal. I think that, if there is a point of unity in Brazil, it is football and there was no one who represented this better than Pelé”, she said. “He is an example of resistance and overcoming difficulties in times as difficult as they are today. He deserves this honor,” she added.
heat and humidity
The women’s race at São Silvestre, held this morning (31st) in São Paulo, was won by Kenyan Catherine Reline, who led the race from end to end. In the male, the victory went to Andrew Rotich Kwemoi, from Uganda, who also found no opponents threatening him. Despite the undeniable leadership of both, they ended the course emphasizing that the victory was difficult, mainly because of the heat and humidity.
“São Silvestre is a very difficult event. We have to be well and prepared to get on the podium and have a head, because the guys [os africanos] they come out strong. It has a lot of ups and downs, but it’s good to run with athletes from outside Brazil”, said Brazilian Fábio Jesus Correia, the best placed in the country in the race, obtaining fourth place.
Correia fought a great duel with Moses Kibet at the end of the race, winning the dispute by two seconds of difference. The Brazilian came in fourth with a time of 46 minutes and 13 seconds, while Kibet finished the race in fifth, with a time of 46 minutes and 15 seconds. “When I took a little look back, I saw that he was very close. I still tried to stretch and I did it”, he said.
As for the Brazilian athlete Jenifer, the weather wasn’t really a big opponent. “We train in different weather conditions and I was already used to it. I think the Africans felt it more because they are not used to this type of climate”, said Jenifer, who celebrated being on the podium of the race again. “It was the realization of a dream. Every middle-distance athlete wants to be at São Silvestre and have a place on the podium, which is not easy. For me, this final race was very difficult because in 2022, I ended up getting injured at the end of the preparation and I had to stop for a few days. So I think that affected my performance a bit, but I didn’t lose the main objective, which was to be there on the podium”, said Jenifer, in an interview with Brazil Agency.