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The death of his father and a serious motorcycle accident: the difficult life of Diogo Ribeiro, the new Portuguese champion

The death of his father and a serious motorcycle accident: the difficult life of Diogo Ribeiro, the new Portuguese champion

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At the age of 19, the Portuguese swimmer became world champion in the 50m butterfly on Monday. But the Benfica athlete's journey was not a bed of roses, after he had to overcome the adversities that life imposed on him.

Diogo Ribeiro

Clodagh Kilcoyne

a The gold medal was won on Monday by Diogo Ribeiro in Dohain the 50 meter butterfly at the World Aquatics Championships, is the greatest achievement of Portuguese swimming, which lacked a significant achievement in the absolute level championships.

At the age of 19, the new Portuguese champion was the only one to complete the race in less than 23 seconds, with the Olympic Games in Paris, which will be held this year, now looming on the horizon.

But the Benfica athlete's journey was not a bed of roses, after he had to overcome the adversities that life imposed on him.

When he was only four years old, Diogo Ribeiro lost his father, which affected him greatly. Until his mother suggested that he devote himself to swimming, in order to focus and occupy his free time.

Later, when he was 16, bad luck knocked on his door again. Diogo was involved in a serious motorcycle accident, which left him in a hospital bed.

“In the hospital, I thought my career was over. I couldn't move. My back only hurt while breathing. The accident was a lesson. It gave me mental and psychological strength. I think I gained a second life. (…) I thought I was indestructible,” revealed in Interview with Mysfotipol.

The world champion now suffered He had bruises all over his body and burns on his legs. He also suffered a dislocated shoulder, a broken foot, and a chest injury, in addition to losing part of his right index finger.

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The recovery was slow but Diogo Ribeiro did not give up and went to fight. In less than a year, the young man had healed from his internal and external wounds and returned to the sport at an impressive level, arousing the interest of Benfica.

He moved with his bags and belongings to Lisbon and saw the possibilities it offered him. In 2022, still at a young age, Diogo Ribeiro was the protagonist of the National Championships held in Coimbra. There were ten national records he broke: six in the juniors and four in the absolute records.

In July 2023, he took silver in the 50 meter butterfly at the World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, giving Portugal its first medal in that competition.

Now, half a year later, Diogo Ribeiro has improved his performance and reached first place on the podium, and the song “A Portuguesa” has been heard in Qatar.

After reaching the Olympus of swimming, the next goal is to participate in the Summer Olympics, which will be held in Paris this year.

Reaction after winning gold