Brazilian determined to build Latin America’s 1st bobsleigh track
By Carlos Meneses
Sao Paulo, Feb 24 (EFE).- Brazilian Olympic bobsleigh athlete Edson Bindilatti is facing strong headwinds but remains determined to achieve his unusual sporting dream: to build a bobsled track outside of this metropolis that would be the first of its kind anywhere in Latin America.
The project was launched in 2021 but has been stalled for months due to a lack of financing. A whopping $80,000 are still needed to make his ambition a reality.
The 43-year-old Bindilatti, a native of the northeastern state of Bahia, is a pioneer of the so-called “Formula One” of ice in Brazil, which is starting to take to winter sports, and especially bobsledding, even though temperatures there rarely drop below freezing.
Brazil’s bobsleigh results have steadily improved, with the national squad having participated in five Winter Olympics, including advancing to the fourth and final run at the 2022 Games in Beijing.
That South American country also has won three Copa America bobsleigh titles.
Bindilatti’s goal now is to make the sport accessible to a much broader segment of the population in Brazil by building a track where young people from poorer parts of Sao Paulo would be able to train and even aspire to become professionals.
“Brazil isn’t just soccer. Brazil is much more,” he said in an interview with Efe amid the foundations of that half-built structure at the Mario Chekin Sports Training Center in Sao Caetano do Sul, an industrial suburb that is part of Sao Paulo’s metropolitan region.
Plans are for the track to measure 120 meters (393 feet) in length and six meters in width. The first part would consist of a steep drop, while a reverse slope at the other end would act as a brake.
The track is to be equipped with steel rails on which the sled would travel.
The goal would be to provide the conditions for practicing the initial explosive push, whereby bobsled teams of either two or four athletes run alongside the heavy sled to give it acceleration before quickly jumping inside in an intricately choreographed series of moves.
Known as a push and load combination, it is crucial to the success of any bobsled run.
Space has already been reserved at the Mario Chekin complex, although at the moment one finds only grass along the stretch where the track would lie.
“I never had a specific place to be able to train. I saw that dream here, with the idea of wanting to give back everything that the sport has given me,” said Bindilatti, who plans to compete in his sixth Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, in 2026.
The Brazilian athlete started out competing in the decathlon and only made the transition to bobsledding after seeing “Cool Runnings,” a 1993 film loosely based on the true story of the Jamaican national bobsleigh team, who participated in the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, Canada, despite never having seen snow before.
Bindilatti and his bobsled teammates provided the initial funding for the track.
They later obtained 10,000 reais ($1,900) through a sponsorship deal with Progel Sports, makers of a massage gel, and an additional 37,000 reais ($7,200) through a virtual fundraising campaign.
But that money has merely covered the cost of the structure’s foundations and the walls on one end of the track, where a small weight room will also be built.
Bindilatti estimates that another 400,000 reais ($80,000) will be needed to complete the project. If those funds can be raised, he believes the track could be in operation in less than six months.
Besides seeking out more sponsors, he has knocked on the doors of the Sports Ministry, which is now headed by Brazilian former volleyball star Ana Moser.