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Date: 8/25/2014

It is her „greatest duty” ever besides the handball court – and Alexandra do Nascimento is full of enthusiasm and excitement at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Nanjing. The Brazilian World Champion (2013) and Grundfos IHF World Handball Player (2012) was selected by the IHF as the “role model” for handball at the second edition of the YOG. And Nascimento does not only have fun playing this role, but takes her tasks with the young athletes full of responsibility and passion, aiming to be a perfect ambassador of handball and sports in general.

In this interview with www.ihf.info the Brazilian, who will compete under the Olympic Rings on home ground in 2016 in Rio for the fourth time, talks about her experiences and the meetings with all the young sportsmen and sports women.


You have arrived just one day ago, but you have a fully packed agenda as handball role model at the Youth Olympic Games. What have been your tasks by now?

Alexandra do Nascimento: Right after my arrival a welcome tour through the Olympic Park started, followed by a meeting and an introduction.


Did you like it?

Alexandra do Nascimento: Though I was jet-legged and tired I have seen and experienced so many things, and I was completely happy.


Did you have the time to meet some young athletes already?

Alexandra do Nascimento: I have met a huge number of athletes from different countries, such as from Mexico or my country-fellows from Brazil, even the handball teams. Unfortunately the Brazilian girls just had lost their semi-final against Russia. And I talked to the handball girls from Angola. They came to me in a very shy way and asked me to take a picture with them. I told them: this is what I am here for - and of course we took a picture. It is a highly important experience for me to get to know the younger generation – as we don’t know them. We come to a tournament and we play – and we don’t think about all social media activities they have. They take a picture with us – and we never know the feedback and impact on platforms like Instagram or Facebook such a picture has. You don’t see the emotions of the younger generation behind such a picture – now I know and I really like it. And of course those young athletes asked me a lot of questions about my career – like if I still feel the butterflies in my stomach before the match.


And - do you feel them?

Alexandra do Nascimento: Yes, I do and I always think that also my competitor feels those butterflies and I only know that I need to be better than her and her team, so I need to control myself. But when you feel those butterflies it means that you love what you are doing. So it is a normal feeling when you love handball.


What is your personal advice for young athletes for the way they have ahead, their sports career?

Alexandra do Nascimento: To finally be on top was anything but easy for me, as I come from a poor family. My father died when I was twelve, so I was alone with my mother and my two brothers. My mother was 33 years old when my dad passed away – I am 32 now and I don’t have children. From this point of view my mother is a real champion. I had to help at home, but thanks to the support of my mother I could play handball. And now I have made such a great career – thanks to the support of my family and mainly my mother. It is hard to train twice a day, as then you don’t have private life anymore. But if I had the chance to re-start my life or to have a wish what should be changed – I would not change a single thing. This life has made me the person I am now, this is a really good feeling. Everything is like a big dream to me. I am Brazilian and in contrast to football we don’t have handball in our veins – but I made it all the way to the top. This shows that if you work hard and you do everything you do with heart and passion, you can make it.


Back to the handball tournament in Nanjing – which team is your favourite for the women’s final on Monday?

Alexandra do Nascimento: I did not see that much of Russia and Korea by now, so it is hard to predict the gold medallist. Korea count on their speed, Russia on their power, so I would say it will be a 50:50 final.


And in general: Which teams do you support at the Youth Olympic Games?

Alexandra do Nascimento: There is none! This event is for the youth of the world and they should learn that it is the most important thing to compete under the five Olympic Rings – regardless if you win or lose. They should enjoy the Youth Olympic Games and learn for their lives as much as possible. This is what I tell those young athletes: Enjoy it, life goes so fast!


In your opinion: Are Youth Olympic Games a good possibility go gain experience for young athletes?

Alexandra do Nascimento: I did not have the chance to compete at Youth Olympic Games. I was 22 years old when I took part at my first Olympic Games, 2004 in Athens, and I did not have any experience. So all young athletes should enjoy their time and competitions in Nanjing, as it is their first Olympic experience. Their next Olympic Games will not be the same.