Brazil aim for best ever medals haul in Rio

Thu Apr 23, 2015 6:52pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Brazilian Minister of Sports George Hilton says everything is on track for the 2016 Rio Games, including the host country's goal of a top-10 finish in the medals table for Brazil's best ever Olympics haul.

Hilton told Reuters that all venues are now on schedule, pollution problems are being addressed, environmental concerns answered, legacy initiatives in place and that he is confident the Games will be produced within the $13 billion budget.

After navigating questions about hiccups that had raised concerns about preparations, the sports minister's eyes sparkled when asked about Brazil's medals aim at the 2016 Summer Olympics, the first to be hosted by a South American country.

"We have a goal, oh yes," Hilton said through an interpreter in an interview at Reuters' offices on Wednesday.

"We expect that for the Olympics they will be in the top 10 in the medals table and for the Paralympics, top five."

Brazil has never finished in the top 10 in the medals table, ranking 22nd at the 2012 London Olympics with three gold, five silver and nine bronze, and 23rd at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Hilton said he was optimistic about Brazil's chances in judo, volleyball, basketball, track and field and handball, and predicted the home country would surprise people in archery and kayaking.

He said a special goal for Brazil was to claim their first Olympic gold in soccer, a result that would surely delight the soccer-mad nation.   Continued...