Forget the Backstreet Boys, meet the Backfavela Boys, Brazil’s new Paralympic heroes

09/14/2016

Daniel Silva, Diogo Ualisson Jeronimo da Silva, Felipe Gomes and Gustavo Araújo won gold for Brazil in the 4x100m relay for visually impaired sprinters on Monday at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, and then revealed the unusual nickname they go by.

Photo: 'The Backfavela Boys' pose with their medals at the Olympic Stadium; Copyright: Rio 2016/Ana Patrícia Almeida

'The Backfavela Boys' pose with their medals at the Olympic Stadium, close to where they grew up; © Rio 2016/Ana Patrícia Almeida

It was Jeronimo da Silva, who hails from the Parque União favela community in the north of Rio, close to the Olympic Stadium, who came up with the name. "I was born in Rio and I live very close of the stadium," the 23-year-old said. “So, competing at home, I am the boss.”

Gomes, meanwhile, comes from one of the most notorious favelas in Rio and told Rio2016.com ealier this year that he wants to challenge preconceptions about people with a disability and people from favelas.

Jeronimo da Silva is proud of his rise to the top and hopes to inspire others to follow in his footsteps.

"People have the wrong image of what a favela is and I am an example of this – I was born and raised there and today I am representing Brazil in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

"The best thing about living in a favela is that everyone says you cannot achieve things in your life, and that gives you some extra strength to show that you can and you will do.

"When I was 14, I was playing and one of the school teachers asked me, 'Are you interested in doing athletics?' It was the right question: nine years later I have a gold medal around my neck."

And it seems certain that however far Jeronimo da Silva's success takes him, he will never forget his roots.

"If I had the chance to buy the best house in the world, I would keep on living there," he said. "I was raised there, all my friends are there. But if one day I have to leave, I will always come back. Everywhere, I'll always carry the favela with me," he said.

REHACARE.com; Source: Rio 2016

More about the Paralympics 2016 in Rio at: www.rio2016.com