Updated: Jun 16
Since this Olympic cycle has now finished I have been dedicating myself to a new project. The details will be made public very soon, as it's ongoing success will not just rely on myself, but the help of all our Trisutto followers.
Today's blog is about highlighting a reunion, and a celebration of what was started in Brazil back in 2001/02 with the help and support of my friend and Trisutto coach, Cali Amaral.
Brett and Cali - Damha Project 2001
In 2001 I started taking my team of then champions to support Cali's squad and his fledgling social programme.
It took bravery from those athletes to go, as we journeyed to São Carlos, a small town 3 hours drive from São Paulo airport. The first sight of our training base will never leave me. Arriving at our destination, two guards with automatic weapons stood at the front gates of a very high walled compound called Damha. My first thought was 'what have I done!' From the looks of astonishment from our 4 car convoy filled with athletes, it was obvious they were thinking the exact same thought.
This was a journey we took twice a year for the next 6 years with different athletes, and in the end I had great athletes asking if they could join our odyssey to Brazil. Word of mouth is a powerful tool amongst athletes, with all the war stories of our training inside this campus. The food, the spartan accommodation, the different eating locations, and the less than pristine training conditions; all wanted to experience this surreal camp.
Cali introduced us to the sponsors of this project and it became one of my most treasured memories. Feedback from athletes over the past 20 years has confirmed it was a massive positive memory for them also. To bring you to the reunion of the last two weeks in Majorca and the point of the story. Reinaldo Colucci has been part of my squad for 20 years, but now to introduce you to an institution and to two athletes, who reached their Olympic dream as Reinaldo did.
Manoel, Luisa and Rei at last weekends 70.3 Portugal
Meet Luisa Baptista and Manoel Messias. As with Reinaldo, both Luisa and Manoel were introduced to triathlon via social programs. Manoel from the town of Fortaleza in the deep north, and Luisa from a town only 80km from São Carlos. Both spent a summer season in my squad in Leysin Switzerland thanks to a sports scholarship from Sesi.
A shout out to Sesi, to say thank you! Thank you for supporting these athletes who hail from very humble beginnings and for providing a pathway which has lead all the way to the Olympic Games.
Sesi is the biggest school for underprivileged kids in Brazil with over 140 schools and approximately 40 sports schools dedicated to helping athletically minded students fulfil their Olympic dreams, in many different sports. I thank them for their support of a triathlon programme, but more importantly for their ongoing support to these three athletes. Luisa, Manoel and Reinaldo who are wonderful role models for future athletes who just need to be given a chance.
I'm proud to say the journey is not over; Luisa, Manoel and Reinaldo will help me in our next version of my coaching focus, while also taking the next steps in their triathlon careers.