Judo star Flavio Canto and Paralympian swimming sensation Daniel Dias have been named the newest Ambassadors for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.
The two Brazilian sporting legends were inducted during a visit to the Instituto Reação project in Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro by Laureus World Sports Academy Members Hugo Porta and Daley Thompson, who also announced a new three-year partnership between Laureus and Instituto Reação.
Flavio Canto, who won the bronze medal in the Under 81 kg division at the 2004 Olympic Games, created Instituto Reação to use judo to promote personal development and social inclusion among the young people who attend. The Institute now operates from grass roots to the high performance level at five locations in the country and works with more than a thousand children.
Daniel Dias is one of the most successful Paralympic swimmers of his generation, having won four gold, four silver and a bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and six gold medals in London in 2012, all in world record times. As a result of these successes, he has twice been winner of the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award and will be one of Brazil’s big hopes for gold medals in the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, now little more than nine months away.
After being welcomed into the Laureus Family, Daniel Dias said:
“I was so grateful to the members of the Laureus Academy for giving me those two Awards. But this is an even greater honour. This is an important recognition for my sport of swimming and will help with my mission to encourage young disabled swimmers in Brazil to take up sport. I thank Laureus with all my heart. Now that I have become an Ambassador maybe it means that I cannot win another Award, but I still hope to win some gold medals for Brazil next year.”
The Instituto Reação has three elements to its work: the Reação Judo School offers basic coaching to about 800 children and teenagers, using the sport to promote education and personal development; Reação Education provides workshops for 350 to develop social, personal and cognitive skills, and also offers scholarships to 32 students in schools and 20 in Universities; Reação Olympics gives judo coaching to 250 athletes taking part in national and international competition, at three high performance training centres in Brazil.
Flavio Canto said:
“I am very pleased to become a Laureus Ambassador and also to welcome Daniel Dias, Hugo Porta and Daley Thompson to Instituto Reação today. I am delighted to be able to show them how we are using judo as an educational tool which can change people’s lives. We are building black belts on and off the mat here, whether they are competing at the highest levels of the sport or just trying judo for the first time. I would especially like to thank Laureus for agreeing to support Instituto Reação for the next three years. This funding means a great deal to us and will allow us to help even more young people.”