RIO DE JANEIRO â€” Bruno de Barros is on the verge of finally getting an Olympic medal.
It will be more than eight years late arriving, and it’s bronze â€” not gold or silver. None of this matters one bit to the Brazilian.
Jamaica was stripped of its gold medal in the 4×100-meter relay from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing earlier this week when one runner â€” Nesta Carter â€” was found guilty of doping. That moved Brazil up to bronze, though Jamaica may consider an appeal.
“It’s a great sense of happiness, despite the time lapse, which isn’t really important,” Barros told The Associated Press. “The feeling of being an Olympic medallist is the same. In fact, after waiting so long it’s worth more.”
Three others on the relay team also pick up bronze medals â€” Jose Carlos Moreira, Sandro Viana, and Vicente Lenilson. Lenilson is the only one with a previous Olympic medal, having won silver in the 4×100 in 2000 in Sydney.
Despite a population of 200 million, and a talent base that shows off in soccer, Brazil has been an also-ran in track and field. It earned only one medal in track and field six months ago at the Rio Olympics â€” gold in the pole vault for Thiago da Silva.
The Brazilian women’s 4×100 team was also promoted to bronze after winner Russia was disqualified in August in a retesting of doping samples from the same Beijing Olympics.
Brazilian Olympic officials are expected to award the women their medals in a special ceremony in Rio de Janeiro in March. It will be a first Olympic medal for all four members of the team: Lucimar de Moura, Rosemar Coelho Neto, Thaissa Presti, and Rosangela Santos.
Officials at the Brazilian Athletics Confederation said it may be months before the men get their medals.
The 30-year-old Barros isn’t worried about fancy protocol, or being awarded the long-awaited medal at an anthem-playing ceremony. He just wants to get his hands on it, and hopes to win another in four years in Tokyo.
“I’ll simply be thrilled to have this first one,” he said. “I think I’m still in my prime for this sport.”
Stephen Wade on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephenWade .His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/stephen-wade
Stephen Wade, The Associated Press