January 11, 2009

Diego Hypolito Loses Sponsorship Contracts

Diego Hypolito is not having an easy time of it. A week ago, while on vacation in the United States, the triple World Cup winner on floor was informed that his sponsorship contracts (including a major one with medical aid agency Golden Cross) would not be renewed. Then it was announced that his club, multi-sport program Flamengo of Rio de Janeiro (most famous for its superb soccer team), might have to drop or significantly reduce its elite gymnastics program due to a budget cut by its sponsor, energy company Petrobras. The drop in the Flamengo gymnastics budget would affect not just Diego Hypolito, but his sister Daniele Hypolito and Jade Barbosa, both of whom train at the club.

It now seems that there is some light at the end of the tunnel. According to this Globoesporte article, Petrobras has dropped the exclusivity clause in its contract with Flamengo, meaning the various components of the club are now free to attract sponsors of their own. It is to be hoped that Flamengo's gymnastics program will find such a sponsor.

Meanwhile, Diego Hypolito is still sponsorless, and he is convinced this is because of his failure to medal in Beijing, according to this Globoesporte article, published on January 10.

(photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Diego says he lost his sponsorship deals because he fell in the Olympic final in Beijing

The gymnast is apprehensive after the setback: "Brazil only values champions"

The tumble he took in the Olympic final in Beijing is costing Diego Hypolito dearly. The gymnast himself believes that it was his disappointment in the 2008 Games which caused his three personal sponsors not to renew his contracts for this year.

"Our country only lives on [for?] Olympic champions. I'm certain, and I'll emphasize it here, that I lost my sponsorship deals because I fell at the Olympics. With that fall I lost more than just a medal. It's a pity Brazil only values champions, because athletes don't live on [for?] one competition only," said the athlete, who finished sixth in the Beijing floor final, in an interview with the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo.

The financial setback came at a very bad time for the athlete. Diego, who trains at Flamengo with his sister Daniele, has not received his stipend for three months now. To make the situation worse, Flamengo is threatening to close down the artistic gymnastics component of its program.

"[I had been told in November that my sponsorship contract with Golden Cross might not be renewed, but] I thought I'd be able to turn things around with my victory in the World Cup Final [in December]. Now I'm going to have to wait, which is rather nerve-racking. We are looking to buy a house, but I'll have to evaluate whether I really want to put myself through those financial straits again," he complained.

(photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Diego, who has lost an income of about 40,000 reais [nearly 18,000 USD] per month, also faces another dilemma. The gymnast is refusing to take part in the [three-day] selection process for the national team, which the Brazilian Gymnastics Federation announced this week [and which is supposed to take place in Curitiba on January 26-28]. And Caixa Econômica Federal [the federal government bank], the Federation's sponsor, will not give him any money until the renewal of the agreement with the athlete has been signed.

"I don't have to prove anything to anyone anymore. I'm a disciplined athlete and I train hard," said the two-time world champion on floor.


  1. Wow, "Brazil only values champions"? Who do they think they are? The Soviet Union or Romania? Sheesh, they could afford to have some modest expectations and goals! I mean, the Brazilian gymnastics program is still a rising power. It's not a superpower yet!

    What a shame! The situation in Brazil continues to get more depressing.

  2. $18,000 per month? That is $216,000/year? Not so sad for him if that conversion is correct.

  3. Nico, Brazil is a pretty sports-mad country. They didn't do as well in the Olympics as they would have liked to, but they have some pretty successful athletes, and of course a hugely successful soccer team. We think their soccer team's success has instilled a winner's mentality in them, for better or for worse.

    TCO, we think the conversion is correct (it's $17,500 or thereabouts). We were rather staggered ourselves.

  4. Oh, I completely agree. Believe me, I'm well aware of Brazil's soccer mania! I just thought maybe they would have more modest expectations with their gymnasts.

  5. Why would they have modest expectations when Diego is a multiple world champion and they're paying him a fortune to help him win an Olympic gold medal? Nah, there's nothing modest about Brazil's aspirations. They've tasted success, and they want more!

  6. I thought maybe they would've learned from what happened with Daiane Dos Santos. It's pretty much the same scenario. 2003 World Champion and then misses out on a medal in Athens.

  7. Except this time Diego managed to medal for three straight years, two of which were gold medals. He also qualified in first place.

  8. I'm Brazilian and yes, most of the country is composed of soccer-maniacs. I don't really like soccer myself, but everybody here expects the national team to win every competition. At the Olympics the bronze medal in men's football was considered a disaster.

    And gymnastics is easily one of the top 5 sports in the country when it comes to viewers (surely behind soccer and volleyball, but also maybe behind swimming and judo). Since gymnastics is a popular sport, a lot of people watch the Gymnastics World Championships. In 2001 Danielle got our first medal, in 2003 Daiane was a world champion, in 2005 Diego was a World Champion, in 2006 Diego was a silver medalist and in 2007 both Diego and Jade medaled. Sure, there was a LOT of hype for 2008.

    Everybody was expecting Diego and Jade to bring a medal (and everyone's sentimental favorite Daiane too, but not as much as in Athens). The fact is, while these are Brazil's best gymnasts, none of them brought a medal. Everybody was disappointed, sure.

    Bur the reaction was not so harsh some people expected. Diego was announced by the Brazilian Olympic Comitee as the third best male athelete of the year (behind swimmer Cesar Cielo and sailer Robert Scheidt). Jade, on the other hand, was completely forgotten. No one cares about her anymore and I fear she will become another Merly Jesus (Merly was an AWESOME gymnast who got injured and could never compete anymore).

    I'm really worried about the situation of gymnastics in Brazil. All the money goes to the women's team, and while they are good, the men's team are really outstanding, given they receive no money. We have Arthur Zanetti and Vitor Rosa ready to show to the world Diego is not the only one who can be a champion. Why haven't they shown this yet? Lack of motivation, I think. While Diego makes 40,000 a month, they get nothing. Zero. They only train and compete because they love the sport. Once someone throws some money, we'll have a trio of champions. Until then, it's all promises and expectations.

    Sorry for the long post and sorry for my English.

    Thiago Simões

  9. Thiago, thanks very much for your comments! We appreciate your sharing your perspective and we feel your frustration. We really hope the financial situation will sort itself out, for the men as well as the women, for Brazilian gymnastics obviously has more to give to the world than Diego! It does seem outrageous that he should receive 40,000 while his teammates receive nothing. We hope something is done about the situation!

    It would be a pity if Jade Barbosa did go the Merly de Jesus way. Like Merly, she has so much potential... We really hope she'll have the chance to live up to that potential.