At the Sydney Olympics, there were times Iwent to the Entertainment Centre to see matches for whatever reason. Transport was no problem. There was a fairly complex bus system that connected the village with all of the venues. It was just a matter of knowing roughly when the buses left and standing at the bus stop. So that is what we did. On one such day I was waiting for the bus with Dan (I think), when another bus came to a screeching halt. It was the Brazilian women’s team bus. The coach, Bernardinho, poked his head out of the front door and invited us to go back to the village in their team bus, an offer which we gratefully accepted. In relating the story at various times in the intervening years, noone is surprised. Many people I know have had good personal experiences with him. The most recent examples of people with cause to think well of him are the coaches of the top eight teams in the world. In this interview he states that there is no clear favourite for the World Championhips and that any of the eight (Brazil, Russia, Cuba, Poland, Italy, USA, Bulgaria, Serbia) can win. I think I’m on record as having a different opionion and former world class player turned journalist Andrea Zorzi seems to agree with me, although he is hedging his bets a little more. He has Brazil as favourites and then a group of teams (Italy, Russia, Cuba, Bulgaria) of a similar level behind them.
In fairness to Bernardinho in addition to having a reputation as a good guy, he is also quoted as saying “In order to continue to win, we must comport ourselves as if we always come second.” Perhaps the quote is actually more a reflection of the latter than the former.