“You have to keep the flame burning inside you.” That has been Robert Scheidt’s motto throughout his career, and one that has helped him to continually reinvent himself in pursuit of success.
At London 2012, the man from Sao Paulo took his total medal tally at the Games to five, joining compatriot Torben Grael and Great Britain’s Ben Ainslie as the joint-highest medal winner in the history of Olympic sailing.
Scheidt has been winning races since he was a child, becoming South American champion in the Optimist class at the age of only 11. A gifted tennis player, he nevertheless decided to devote all his energies to sailing in 1986, a year in which he was selected to represent Brazil at the Optimist World Championship.
After switching to Snipe, Scheidt then moved into the Laser class, taking the 1991 junior world title in Scotland by winning all but one of the 11 races. On graduating to senior level, he won his first world title in Tenerife (ESP) in 1995 and a second the following year in Cape Town (RSA). A few months later came the first of his two Olympic golds at Atlanta 1996, where he finished in the top three in every one of the 11 races, earning a commanding win over Ainslie.
The Briton gained revenge at Sydney 2000, leaving Scheidt to settle for silver. Choosing to stay in Laser, the Brazilian then demonstrated his gift for bouncing back four years later in Athens, mastering the light winds at the Agios Kosmas Olympic Sailing Centre to land a second gold and his third medal in consecutive Games.
Scheidt then decided to try his hand at Star, the most prestigious of all the Olympic sailing classes. Partnering Bruno Prada, he won another silver at Beijing 2008, where he also had the honour of carrying the national flag at the Opening Ceremony. Four years on, at London 2012, he added a bronze, taking his Olympic medal to five.
In the meantime, he has also won 17 world championship medals, 12 of them golds, the most recent of which came in the Laser class in 2013. His overall record of two golds, two silvers and that one bronze makes him Brazil’s greatest ever Olympic sailor, ahead of Torben Grael, and also confirm him as one of the country’s most successful athletes in any sport.
“I think these five Olympic Games represent a life dedicated to sport, a life in which I have invested all my energies and all my time in making the absolute most of my potential as an athlete,” Scheidt tells us in this exclusive video. “I’m very proud of that, because each time has been a different story for me”.