Lauro Chaman chasing elusive gold

Lauro Cesar Chaman of Brazil in action during the Men's Time Trial C5 at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
Lauro Cesar Chaman of Brazil in action during the Men's Time Trial C5 at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Lauro César Chaman draws much of his strength from competing at home and it was in Brazil, almost two years ago, where the cyclist won it all.

"Now I close my eyes and I can see that moment," Chaman said reflecting on his win at the 2018 Track World Championships in Rio de Janeiro.

"I thought I had won, although I wasn't sure. When I got confirmation of the victory, I was able to celebrate with my son, my wife and mainly my grandmother, who got on a plane for the first time to see me compete.

"It was very special."

Just two years prior, his efforts saw him achieve what many athletes can only dream about - being a double Paralympic medallist. Chaman won bronze in the time trial C5 before taking silver after another wonderful performance in the road race C4-5 three days later.

His bronze in the time trial saw Chaman become the first Brazilian cyclist to ever win a medal at the Paralympic Games.

"I already felt fulfilled with the two medals from Rio 2016, but the Track World Championship win surpassed it," he said.

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Medalha de Prata na Ominium, Campeonato Mundial de Pista em Milton Canadá, para finalizar nossa participação no Mundial ficamos com a prata, prova que é composta pelas provas “1km, volta lançada, perseguição individual e Scrat” estou muito feliz, sou muito grato a Deus por tantas alegrias em minha vida, agradeço muito a todos que me ajudam e estão comigo no dia a dia, muito obrigado a todos pela torcida Deus abençoe a todos e uma ótima semana🙌🏼🙏🏼. #gradidão #tudopossonaquelequemefortalece #tokyo2020 #memorial #fupes #timesp #caixa #bolsaatleta #ciclismocbc #cpb #probioticasquad #vittoriabrasil #penksvestuario #livcentrodetreinamento #nutrilaurasimoes #cannondale

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Achieving glory outside Brazil

Chaman proved he can also perform outside his home country. At the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games, he again wrote a glorious page in Brazilian para sport history after winning gold and silver in individual pursuit (track) and time trial (road) respectively.

He also captured gold in the road race in the Peruvian capital.

"It's very nice to see how Brazilian Paralympic cycling is growing and getting stronger," Chaman said.

His achievements helped Brazil break a record for winning more medals than any other country at a single edition of the Parapan Games, including staggering 308 golds.

More than a means of transport

The city of Araraquara, in the state of São Paulo, witnessed for many years the evolution of the young Chaman.

At first it started out as a way to move around his hometown but his passion for cycling grew.

"I always liked it. Then I started participating in mountain bike and able-bodied cycling events, until a friend introduced me to Paralympic sport," he recalled.

Growing up in a football (soccer) country that has seen some of the greatest names grace the game, it's no surprise that as a child, Chaman wanted to be a football player and wear the famous yellow and green jersey.

However, he never imagined in his wildest dreams that he would represent Brazil on the international stage one day and despite all the adventures cycling has taken him on, at 33, Chaman is still in the city of Araraquara.

"I have the chance to train and compete in my city and that's great!"

Lessons for a lifetime

"It was in the Paralympic Movement that I fulfilled the greatest dreams of my life," Chaman said.

However, it's not just about medals or trophies.

Para sports has taught Chaman so much more.

"I used to complain a lot and living with athletes with different disabilities makes us think about all that," he said.

"I see people who have difficulties much greater than mine, and in many ways they are much happier. I want to convey to my son that we have to value the little things in life. We have to be grateful for everything we have in life.

"All my life I had one leg different from the other. Whenever I have the chance to go to a school, I go and talk about my story to encourage kids to play a sport. I know that children with disabilities are ashamed and I tell them about my experience."

Aiming for gold

With the Paralympics just five months away, Chaman has been considered one of the top candidates for a gold medal at Tokyo 2020. In addition to his conquests at Rio 2016, the Parapan American Games and the recent World Championships, he has won several World Cup races between 2017 and 2019.

Just last month during the fourth stage of the Tour Colombia 2020, Chaman was named 'the most combative athlete', which is awarded to a stage's most aggressive rider.

However, the Brazilian is remaining grounded and focused as he continues to prepare for the Games.

"I don't see myself as a favourite, I just train a lot and always try to improve myself. The Netherlands, France, Italy and Australia are very strong," said Chaman.

"I really want to get one more medal. In Rio there were two: a silver and a bronze. I'm still missing the gold medal."

By the International Paralympic Committee (IPC)