Le Pays De France - Brazil's 'Frozen Bananas' take off as 'Blue Birds' at Olympics

Paris -
Brazil's 'Frozen Bananas' take off as 'Blue Birds' at Olympics
Brazil's 'Frozen Bananas' take off as 'Blue Birds' at Olympics

Brazil's 'Frozen Bananas' take off as 'Blue Birds' at Olympics

Olympic veteran Edson Bindilatti says it's high time that Brazil's bobsleigh team finally ditched its nickname 'Frozen Bananas' and earned some respect on the ice track at the Winter Games.

Text size:

The 42-year-old will pilot the Brazilian bobsleigh in both the two- and four-man events at the Beijing Olympics.

He is competing at his fifth Winter Games, having made his debut at Salt Lake City in 2002.

Back then, the Brazilian bobsleigh team was dubbed the 'Frozen Bananas' because of its bright-yellow sled.

"Receiving the nickname was quite funny, we didn't see it as an offence or a put-down," Bindilatti told AFP.

"Our sled was yellow and the banana is a typical Brazilian fruit.

"We took it with a lot of good humour because it was something new for everyone."

Bindilatti is a former decathlete who won the national title six times.

He switched to bobsleigh when the president of the Brazilian Ice Sports Federation proposed he join the team to push the sled.

To help him understand the sport, he was told to watch the hit 1993 movie 'Cool Runnings' - the against-all-odds story of the Jamaican team at the 1988 Calgary Games.

Bindilatti was soon hooked and Brazil's bobsleigh story has been touted as a real-life version of Cool Runnings.

At the Salt Lake City Games, he was on board when the four-man 'Frozen Bananas' finished 27th, then 25th four years later at the Turin Games.

They failed to qualify for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but with Bindilatti by now piloting the bob, the Brazilians finished 26th at the 2014 Sochi Games.

That was when they wanted to drop the 'Frozen Bananas' nickname with the Brazilian bob now bearing a more sleek black look alongside the yellow, green and blue of the national flag.

The renamed Brazilian 'Blue Birds' earned their best ranking of 23rd in the two-man event at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

"As we evolved in the sport we became more competitive, we started calling ourselves 'Blue Birds'," Bindilatti explains.

"In 2002, it was the first time Brazil participated in the sport, but today people are used to seeing our sled in competitions all over the world and that first nickname became a good memory."

For his Olympic dream to be fulfilled, Bindilatti wants a top-20 finish in at least one of his two events at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre to prove the Brazil team are no longer 'Frozen Bananas' on ice.

"Expectations are high. We want to do a good job and make it to the final," said Bindilatti, with the two-man bobsleigh heats starting Monday.

The Brazilian sled was 26th in Saturday's first training session.

"Everyone is entitled to go down three times, but only the top 20 race the fourth heat," he added.

"Our goal is to do all four.

"We are keeping our feet on the ground, but we want to achieve an historic result for Brazil."