By Alexandra Ulmer and Chris Gallagher
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Brazilian gymnasts pocketed silver and bronze for their explosive floor routines on Sunday, handing the South American country its first medals in the discipline in front of a delighted Rio crowd.
Emotion was not just restricted to the Rio Olympic Arena’s audience, however, and silver medalist Diego Hypolito and bronze medalist Arthur Mariano burst into tears, embraced and draped themselves in the Brazilian flag after the results were declared.
Hypolito, 30, who fell flat on his face during the London 2012 Games, savored his 15.533 score as long-awaited redemption.
“I fell in two Olympic Games. They were very difficult for me. I was able to overcome that and this is a great result for me. I believed in myself and my coach believed in me, when nobody believed in me,” he told reporters.
Compatriot Mariano, 22, who curled up on the floor, too nervous to watch the final results unfold, notched 15.433.
“It was unthinkable to have two Brazilians on the podium but finally our day came,” he beamed after his performance.
Max Whitlock of Britain won gold with 15.633 points, but the overwhelmingly Brazilian crowd only had eyes for their national stars.
“It’s very emotional, it’s a delight to have seen them both give their all,” said spectator Adriana Queiroz, 47, a marketing executive from Sao Paulo, who was wearing a Brazilian shirt.
Brazil’s first Olympic gymnastics champion, rings specialist Arthur Zanetti, is due to compete on Monday for a medal in the discipline.
(Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer and Chris Gallagher; Editing by Neil Robinson)