“More and Up” is a division of Maisfutebol that researches athletes and other modalities beyond football. Stories of effort, overcoming, successes and difficulties.
Suddenly, the dream turned into a nightmare.
Diogo Ribeiro didn’t even have time to savor the silver he won in the 100m butterfly in the European Juniors.
Three days later, at the age of 16, the swimmer woke up in an INEM ambulance on the way to the hospital, after a car crashed into the motorbike he was driving in Coimbra.
“In the hospital I just thought my career was over. I couldn’t move. My back hurts just by breathing ”, recalls the young athlete, who already had an agreement with Benfica, who was afraid that he would fall.
The darkest scenario ran through his mind. The case was no less.
“After the impact, I fell and lost consciousness. I just remember being in the ambulance. I had bruises all over my body. I lost part of my right index finger; I broke my right foot. I dislocated my right shoulder. I had big burns in my left knee. A small tear.” chest,” he said, in conversation with More.
In spite of everything, the consequences could have been even worse for the young swimmer. Recovery was slow, but the support of the family gave him strength in the most difficult days.
“I stayed in the hospital for a week and was in bed at home for a month. Then I started physiotherapy, but I had to use a wheelchair when I went to the bathroom.”
Until one day he got up without support. And don’t forget that moment.
“The first time I was able to walk on my own, I got out of bed and went to the kitchen to surprise my mother. I was about to fall and she said I was crazy and told me to go back to bed,” he says with a smile.
Physically, the sequel that took the most time to recover was the one he didn’t expect at all: a rip in the chest. Which could have been more disturbing was easily resolved.
“A few days after the accident, my finger was reconstructed and it turned out very well. The sensitivity changed, and at first I was afraid to pull something hard, for example. But I completely recovered “, confirms.
Ten national records thanks to … “mummy food”
Although Diogo did not have any family connections before swimming, Diogo’s first contact with the swimming pool occurred when he was a few months old.
“My sister and I started swimming right away when they were kids. She’s three and a half years older than me and I was only a few months old when I started going to those water classes. And when I was three I started wanting to do more things in swimming”, he adds. .
Shortly thereafter, a family tragedy caused the mother to insist on a hobby that she realized her son loved.
“When I was four, my father passed away and my mother wanted me to devote myself more, and distract myself too,” he confesses, swimming with a star tattooed on his right shoulder in memory of his father.
Then he continues, “Then, around the age of six, I started swimming more seriously, started competing regionally and started winning.”
Before arriving in Benfica, at the start of this season, the Coimbra-born youngster had always swam in his hometown clubs: Fundação Beatriz Santos, Clube Náutico Académico Coimbra and later União de Coimbra.
It was already after the accident and the move to Lisbon – where he trains at the Centro de Alto Rendimento do Jamor – that Diogo Ribeiro confirmed his potential.
But when you return to Coimbra, all eyes will be on the swimmer. A young man whose results made him one of the best Portuguese ever by the Portuguese swimmers at the Olympics.
Despite his young age, Diogo Ribeiro was the leading figure in the National Championships that took place in Coimbra between March 31 and April 3.
In total, he broke ten national records – six junior and four absolute.
The Benfica swimmer came out among the Nationals as the fastest of all time in the 50m butterfly and 100m freestyle – he had both hit twice. But there is one more special for the swimmer.
“All absolute records are private. But the 100 meters freestyle is the most special. This was the first time the Portuguese fell from 49 seconds [48,72] In the distance I didn’t even have high expectations for this race,” he says.
But what is the recipe for all this success in swimming at home?
“Pasta with chickpeas, meat, peas and carrots. All mixed up.”
No, this is not a mistake. Diogo Ribeiro explains with a smile.
“I attach 100 percent importance to my mom’s food. It makes a huge difference because food is one of the most important things for a competition. She does what I like and I’m used to eating. She usually makes pasta with chickpeas, meat, peas and carrots. All mixed up. Sleeping in my bed also made a difference. In my little house.
In addition to the national records – to which he added the 100m Mariposa in mid-April – Diogo has conquered 12 minimums in Coimbra for European and world championships, both for juniors and absolutes.
But the athletic strategy made him give up two of these major competitions.
«I chose to go to European divorcees, in Rome, [11 a 21 de agosto] The Junior World Cup in Peru [uma semana depois]. My coach and I believe that we can achieve better results in these two competitions because of the training sessions”, he confirms.
“I thought I was indestructible, the accident was a lesson.”
It is impossible to forget that these results come less than a year after an accident that could have ended Diogo Ribeiro’s career early.
And he himself does not let him forget that. Not to mislead himself, but to emphasize how the accident changed his character.
“I wouldn’t say something good happened,” he offers coldly, “but I needed to open my eyes.”
“The accident was really a lesson. I learned a lot and gained on a psychological level. It gave me mental strength and responsibility. That moment made me look at life in a different way”, he continues.
Here the young man admits the mistakes and transgressions he committed, which are also commensurate with his age. And you never want to do it again.
“I think I’ve gained a second life. And I have to enjoy it. I can’t do the mistakes I’ve made in the past. I’ve done so much bullshit and thought I was indestructible and nothing would ever happen to me. I thought it was always okay. I realized it wasn’t Wasn’t it.”
Now, with the work he has done at Benfica and the evolution he is witnessing, Diogo Ribeiro believes he can get where no other Portuguese swimmer has.
“Benfica gives me much better conditions than I used to. I had offers from other clubs, but I decided right away with Benfica. Until last year, I only worked in the pool. I threw myself into the water and swam. Now I work in the gym, work on biomechanics, and do studies on flip-flops, finishing, and starting technique. These details change a lot,” he defends.
For all that, the swimmer’s horizon is truly the top.
“I feel like I can be one of the best players in the world. There has never been a swimmer close to the top of the swimming world, but I want to get there. I always have my head on the floor, but my dream is to get an Olympic medal”, he repays, ambitious.
And what does it take to achieve this?
“I do not know what is required. But if I do not know, someone will teach me. I am still young, I do not know everything, but I have people who will help me ”, he answers immediately.
Something the young swimmer thinks he doesn’t need is…leaving the country.
“I don’t think I need to leave Portugal to reach the top. But if I get the Olympic medal, we will know if Portugal has the conditions for that or not”, he concludes.
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