Westfields Sports is looking for a family to host a Brazilian Athlete from 1st - 17th March 2009. Each year we bring a Brazilian athlete to
Australia on Scholarship to train and compete here for a few weeks. This year the Adhemar Ferreira da Silva Scholarship has been won by
Jefferson Perreira da Silva
a 20 year old triple jumper from Sao Paulo.
If you have a spare room and would like to supply accommodation and meals this is a great opportunity to be involved in this
Australian-Brazilian relationship. Jefferson speaks only Portuguese. In the past we have had host families that did not not speak
Portuguese and even though communication was somewhat difficult, it did work quite well (particularly with google translation easily
accessible on the internet. However a Portuguese speaking host would be preferable. The host family will receive $200 per week assistance
in covering expenses. If you are intersted, please contact Westfields Athletics Director Dan Suchy:
The Scholarship was names after Brazil's greatest ever Olympian. You can read on for a brief history of the scholarship.
Born in Sao Paulo Brazil in 1927, Adhemar Ferreira da Silva was an only son. His father was a railway worker and his mother a house maid.
Brought up in a slum tenement, at the age of 5 he took charge of the house alone while his parents worked to survive. When enrolled at
School he began to play soccer, although his parents were worried he would be injured and might not be able to work.
As he grew older he and his friends became keen musicians singing and playing the guitar in duets at talent shows, many of which they would
win and then collect the sought after prizes.
Adhemar took on many jobs while at school to earn money to support the family. Eventually after completing a typing course, Adhemar started
working in an office where he would eventually meet a friend who was an athlete.
Adhemar didn't know what an athlete was but during the conversation he realised it had something to do with sport. He asked questions and
was invited to turn up at the next training session. After some time trying different events, Adhemar one day saw the Club team captain
training for the triple jump and he asked him what he was doing? After explaining, Adhemar asked him to explain again. Confused, Adhemar
tried it for the first time and the captain so surprised by what he saw called the coach over.
Adhemar jumped 12.84m. The coach invited him to jump in a meeting three days later and he jumped 13.50 metres. After one month Adhemar was
up to 14.22m and breaking records. He had to pick up a book before he realised how significant the new records were; the book informed him
that an athlete his age would usually be struggling to jump 11.00m at that stage. Adhemar had found his speciality, even though at the time
he was already a very talented soccer player with the Sao Paulo Football Club.
The 1948 London Olympics were approaching and the standard for the triple jump had been set at 14.80m; Adhemar's best was 14.77m. At the
trials Adhemar beat out two great Brazilian triple jumpers to record 15.03 metres and his passport to London was secured. Never before
competing in front of a large crowd when he walked into Wembley Stadium in front of 120 000 spectators he thought there was going to be a
soccer match. So struck by the attention Adhemar bombed his first Olympics and failed to make the final.
Adhemar vowed he would never be caught out like that again.
In 1949 Adhemar's coach Deitrich Gerner knew that Adhemar could break the Brazilian record and informed the officials an attempt was going
to be made (in those days notification of possible records was required). On his first attempt, he jumped 15.51m bettering the Brazilian and
South American records; it was also the best jump in the world that year. The following year 1950 saw Adhemar equal the world record of
16.00m and in 1951 he became the exclusive holder at 16.01m.
With the 1952 Helsinki Olympics (Finland) approaching Adhemar decided to learn Finnish. When he arrived at the Airport he tried out his
Finnish on the crew members who reluctantly answered him. Not to be defeated he pulled out his guitar and sung the only Finnish song he
knew. They joined in singing. The local press got involved and the Newspapers the next day featured a front page story of Adhemar and the
story of him at the Airport.
People started to recognise him on the streets asking for his autograph and he heard one mother and daughter refer to him as "that very
black triple jumper". Adhemar understood what they had said and he replied in their language "Not that black, but the dark colour of
Brazilian coffee". It was this friendly attitude that endeared him to the Finnish people.
On the day of the 1952 Olympic Final Adhemar broke the World record on his first jump and then broke it another three times: 16.05m, 16.09m,
16.12m and 16.22m (Keep in mind the runnup was not synthetic and quite slow). The crowd were fixed on Adhemar's jumps and cheered loudly for
each attempt. Adhemar had become the first Brazilian athlete to ever win Olympic Gold and only the second in any sport.
During the medal presentation, the crowd became emotional chanting Adhemar, Adhemar ....after hearing the Brazilian National Anthem for the
first time and seeing the flag hoisted the crowd continued to chant so an official asked Adhemar to run around the stadium and greet the
crowd. They were shouting Adhemar, Adhemar, Adhemar ..... This became the first time in history an athlete had run around the stadium and
would later be known as the victory lap.
In 1955 at the first ever Pan American Games Adhemar would find himself in the 6th and final round mistakenly thinking his best effort of
16.15m had been equalled on the last attempt by a Venezuelan athlete Arnaldo Devonish.
On the previous day the newspapers had quoted Arnaldo saying "I will not only beat Adhemar, but I will break the World Record". With his
last Jump Arnaldo had only jumped 6.13m, but the noise from the crowd was so loud Adhemar had thought they called 6.15m. So Adhemar went
all out to win. He jumped an incredible 16.56m smashing his own World record.
In the next year at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, there was some reporting amongst the Press that Adhemar was too old to win. So it was with
somewhat embarrassment that the newspapers had to swallow their pride and announce "Brazilian kangaroo wins gold". Before he arrived in
Australia Adhemar became a father with a baby girl whom he named Adyel (AD from Adhemar and EL from Elza his wife, and joined with a
Spanish Y). Upon arriving in the Olympic Village in Melbourne, Adhemar was struck down with a serious dental problem. The news of his bad
health spread around the village and his opponents visited him to see if it wasn't just a hoax to give them a false sense of security.
But Adhemar was in pain and his face was completely swollen. His coach took him to a dentist just three days before the triple jump
commenced and the dentist fixed the problem glad to help the Olympic Champion. On the day of his Olympic final 27th November 1956 Adhemar
was very calm in front of the 100 000 crowd. When he came out he saw a group of school students who were shaking the fence. Intrigued with
their behaviour he walked over to them and started to talk to them on how to be a winner in life. When the competition started he continued
to walk over to the happy young Australians and talk to them. When he went back to jump they would chant his name and then demand silence
from the crowd.
Adhemar was motivated by their support and pulled out a magnificent 16.35m to win his second Olympic Gold. After the medal ceremony during
which the students hugged each other and cried tears of joy, Adhemar came over to them again showing his medal and told them they had played
a part in his winning the Gold. He felt they were on the track with him helping him along. Rosemary Mula was one of the small girls in that
group of students and the meeting with him at the 1956 Olympics would change her life forever.
Adhemar did attend a fourth Olympics in 1960 in Rome. His coach Gerner was never able to attend the first three Olympics due to the fact
the Brazilian Federation did not send him, but this time they did. Adhemar was chosen as the flag bearer for Brazil and he said that this
was as big an honour as winning the Olympics. On the day of the trial, the crowd were very supportive and expectant of the Dual Gold
medallist, but every time Adhemar jumped the old brilliance was not there and he failed to make the final. It was a devastating blow. As
Adhemar walked out of the stadium he was stopped by a tremendous applause from the crowd. He turned around to see what was happening and
realised they were giving him a standing ovation. He was very pleased. Adhemar asked Gerner what went wrong and Gerner asked the same of
Adhemar. Neither knew what the problem was, but they both knew this was his last jump. Everyone had believed Adhemar was still capable of
winning. It was not long after back in Brazil that a doctor noticed there was something on Adhemar's neck. A biopsy revealed a Ganglion
The doctor was tearful in explaining to him that while he was still trying to win in Rome, his body was transferring all its energies trying
to battle the disease. Even worse, the treatment for the condition was lengthy and the general public in those days were prejudiced against
such things and Adhemar was banished to the mountains where the treatment for such diseases was located.
There was little sympathy even for their greatest Olympian.
Eventually cured, years later Adhemar would regain his dignity and undergo many projects. Most of these projects gained him no wealth or
payment at all, but Adhemar was used to that; he was an amateur athlete and believed passionately in the greatness of amateur sports. He
acted in two films including a starring role in "Black Orpheus" which won the 1959 Academy Award for best foreign film. In 1968 he graduated
from University in Law and for 9 years wrote a daily sports column mainly on amateur sport. He also acted as a Sports commentator at major
sporting events. Adhemar's passion was promoting young people into becoming successful, but not just in sport.
He created an annual event which allowed homeless children the opportunity to participate in sporting events, debating, essay writing,
movies and discussion groups. When Adhemar gave his lectures, hundreds of children from the ages of 3 to 16 listened in silence for hours.
Another project which lasted 12 years was set up by Adhemar involving city halls. Adhemar organised the construction of three sporting
facilities and the use of an army barracks athletics track. Underprivileged teenagers from all over were invited to participate. When an
opposing political party won control of city halls, the project was stopped. Numerous other public projects which benefit both the
underprivileged and the general population followed and many bare his name. Other Adhemar projects included his work over three years to
convince the world body IAAF to allow Brazil to host a Brazilian Grand Prix, and his efforts were rewarded with success.
He was truly a hero for the people.
About twenty years after Melbourne 1956, Adhemar was in Singapore promoting a Brazilian exhibition put on by the Foreign Office. A couple
noticed the exhibition and approached Adhemar asking if they could go in. He replied it was by official invitation only. The lady commented
she had a passion for Brazil and that a long time ago she had met a Brazilian Gold medallist at the 1956 Olympics who had motivated her
interest in Brazil. It was Rosemary Mula. Adhemar asked her if she remembered the man's name and Rosemary replied straight away "Da Silva
the great triple jump medallist". Adhemar recalls being a little choked and could only say "A great pleasure to meet you again. The athlete
was me. I am da Silva. Please come to see the exhibition. I will talk to the organisers." This began a relationship between Adhemar and the
Mula's that would later bring about friendship and scholarship between the nations of Brazil and Australia, and particularly Westfields Sports.
Many years later at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Rosemary applied to be a volunteer. Upon hearing that the Brazilian team were bringing Adhemar
Ferreira da Silva as a member of the Brazilian delegation, Rosemary successfully obtained official duties with the Brazilian delegation as
their guide and host.. Rosemary and Wilf purchased a unit which had a view of the Olympic Stadium.
Adhemar was now in his seventies, but still very fit. His birthday was held at the Mula's unit and the many friends he met in 1956 were
invited; Dawn Fraser. Murray Rose etc and apologies from the great Betty Cuthbert. Sadly Adhemar passed away in 2001 of a sudden and
completely unexpected heart attack. Rosemary was invited to Brazil to honour Adhemar with the release of his Biography "A hero for the
people". The greatest athlete of all time Carl Lewis wrote the forward. Rosemary has in her possession two very
valuable memories of Adhemar: The running spikes that won him the 1956 Olympics which Adhemar presented to her in person and replicas of
the 1952 and 1956 Gold medals.
In 2001, Rosemary was listening to Alan Jones on Radio talking about four athletes from Westfields Sports who were trying to raise money to
go to the World Schools Games. She contacted the school and donated some money. Rosemary and Wilf were invited to our Presentation Night and
was most impressed by our passion for athletics. She and Wilf made the decision to donate to the school a ten year scholarship consisting of
$1000 prize money and a trip to Brazil to compete at the Brazilian Championships. To present the inaugural award, Adyel da Silva, Adhemar's
daughter, was flown to Australia to do the honours. Adyel, a famous singer (2005 Grammy nomination) and television host announced the first
winner as John Thornell. Alan Jones in the audience immediately announced he would pay for John's coach Fred O'Connor to travel with John to
Brazil. Since then the coach of the winning athlete has been added to the scholarship package. CBAT (Brazil's athletics federation) pays for
the airfare of the athlete and accommodation of both, while the Mula's donate the Trophy, $1000 cash prize and pay for the coach's airfare.
The package now stands as Airfare and Accommodation (most meals) for winner and coach to Sao Paulo Brazil and $1000 and Adhemar trophy for
the athlete. All members of the Westfields Athletics Club are encouraged to apply. Even younger members who may not have much chance. The
selection panel consider both current and previous applications when choosing the winner.
In 2007 we decided to reciprocate a similar scholarship package to bring a
Brazilian athlete each year to Australia. The package incorporates return
airfare, and living expenses during the stay in Australia as well as the
opportunity to compete in a major championship. This year the third
scolarship has been won by 20 year old Jefferson Perreira da Silva.