Things continue to be highly unsettled in Rio de Janeiro, where a distraught Diego Hypolito left a meeting with Flamengo President Marcio Braga on Friday saying, "Flamengo gymnastics is a thing of the past. It was a huge blow for me, in a year in which I was supposed to rise from the ashes."
Diego, his sister Daniele and Jade Barbosa met with Braga on Friday to discuss the future of the elite gymnastics program at Flamengo, one of Brazil's foremost multi-sport clubs. According to Globoesporte, the trio were told by Braga that he wasn't telling anyone to leave, but did not have the means to renew contracts. "We have run out of money. We cannot sign contracts that we cannot fulfill," stated Braga, who blames the global economic crisis for the situation. The only solution, he said, would be the arrival of new sponsors or public funds.
Diego Hypolito, Daniele Hypolito, and Jade Barbosa with Marcio Braga
According to other Globoesporte and UOL Esporte articles, Braga once again blamed the Brazilian Olympic Committee (which receives 2 percent of the revenues of the national lottery) for not doing enough to solve the crisis at Flamengo. "We are going through a crisis, but the resources are there," Braga stated, referring to the fortune the Brazilian Olympic Committee recently received to strengthen Rio de Janeiro's candidacy for the 2016 Olympics. "If part of those resources were made available to us, the athletes wouldn't be so unhappy today." He went on to say, "The current system cannot continue. It's a crime against society and the practice of sports."
According to Braga, the directors of Brazil's leading sports clubs (including Pinheiros, where Daiane dos Santos and Lais Souza train) will meet with the Brazilian Minister of Sport on February 4 to find a financial solution to the crisis.
After the meeting with Braga, Daniele Hypolito was quick to point out that the gymnasts still had a month to figure out what to do. However, it was obvious that her brother Diego was not inclined to wait. "I've been cast adrift. Unfortunately, we will have to start looking for a new club. We have places to go, but all I really wanted was to stay here at Flamengo. I don't have much time. I've lost my sponsors. I'm a professional. I don't want things to be like they were in the past, when I didn't have anything to eat," said the double world champion on floor, who reportedly hasn't received his wages for three months and has lost his other sources of income as well.
Apparently Diego told UOL Esporte that he and Daniele had already found a new place to train, but refused to disclose where it was. One of the options would be the new gymnastics club Flamengo's traditional rival Botafogo has offered to set up for the gymnasts in a shed adjacent to the club's stadium. Alternatively it might be an existing top club, like Pinheiros. However, that would require a move from Rio de Janeiro to São Paulo, and we are not sure the Hypolitos are prepared to do that.
To be continued...