Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima
Vanderlei de Lima became an instant Brazilian celebrity, after winning two medals in the Athens Olympics 2004. Vanderlei had been leading the Marathon for several kilometers, when he was attacked by an Irish religious fanatic; after the incident, he was outpaced by two competitors, and finished third; besides winning the bronze medal, he was awarded with the special medal Pierre de Coubertin, in recognition for his outstanding Olympic spirit.
Vanderlei was born on August 11th 1969, in the city of Cruzeiro do Oeste, state of Paraná, south of Brazil; he is father of two girls, Any Caroline, 13, and Thayná, 10.
Before being a professional runner, he worked as a "bóia-fria" in the farms at his home town; the term bóia-fria means "cold food", a reference to the fact that such workers, for not having a place to warm their meals (that they must bring with them), must eat them cold, sitting down on the floor among the bushes; salaries for this kind of work is very low, even for Brazilian standards.
Vanderlei´s hobbies are fishing, listening to Brazil´s country music, and playing football; in the football fields of Cruzeiro do Oeste, where he was a swift right-forward, he started his career of athlete.
His performance was a suprise for most Brazilian fans and media; however, Vanderlei has been a top athlete for a few years now. The next link, in Portuguese, lists some of Vanderlei de Lima winnings, which include the bi-championship in the Pan-American Games, and good results in Japan and Europe; the next page, in English, shows that, back in 2002, Vanderlei already had the best Marathon time in Brazil.
Vanderlei kept his humble manners even after becoming an idol; at this interview to a major Brazilian newspaper, and at several other occasions, he declared that he had no bad feelings against the person who attacked him, and that he was just very happy with his performance; asked wheter he would win the race hadn´t the incident occurred, all he declared was that his mind and body would be in different conditions.
Brazilian online media reported that Vanderlei will receive a prize of R$ 200,000 (about US$ 65K) from one of his sponsors, the Păo de Açucar group, the largest Brazilian supermarket chain.
Added Dec. 2004: the Brazilian Olympic Committee invited Polyvios Kossivas, the Greek who helped Vanderlei in Athens, for a ceremony which awarded the best Brazilian athletes of 2004.
Mr. Kossivas received the recognition from Vanderlei and from the Brazilian people, for his altruistic help. Vanderlei was chosen the Athlete of the Year 2004.
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