Brazilian force feeds himself for windsurfing medal
Fighting the scales means the opposite to Brazilian windsurfer Ricardo "Bimba" Winicki from most athletes aiming for Olympic glory.
The 2007 world champion wants to compete at the London Games weighing nearly 10 kilos more than he did in Athens eight years ago when he let an Olympic medal slip from his grasp.
The 32-year-old Carioca (Rio native), who is going to his fourth Games, hopes to find strong winds at the yachting venue in Weymouth bay on England's south coast.
He believes that the heavier he is the faster he will be able to go on his RS:X board.
"The strongest (windsurfers) began to get the advantage. I saw that the heaviest guy won in a strong wind and also had much more strength to pump the sail than the lighter guys," Bimba told Reuters.
"I lose weight very quickly, I don't have much of an appetite, I don't like sweet things and I'm always burning a lot of calories (more than 4,000 a day in training).
"There's a bad side to having to force yourself to eat, it's not at all pleasant but you can't worry about it, you just have to eat what's in front of you," added Bimba, who weighed 67 kilos in Athens and rejoices in having reached 77 preparing for London.
When Bimba competed in Athens, windsurfing was in the Mistral class, slower in strong winds and faster in light winds, with the lighter competitors holding the advantage.
At the 2008 Beijing Games, the larger RS:X boards came in but were not to the advantage of the bigger competitors due to a lack of wind, but the opposite is expected at the London Games starting on July 27.
"A month ago, I managed to pass 77 kilos (but) I still have the tension of the journey, a long, long time on the plane to lose weight, so I think that 76 now (and) to be competing at 74 is a good size.
"There's still the feeding orgy of the Olympic Village," added Bimba with a grin after his last sail in Rio before embarking for Britain on Tuesday.
Ten kilos heavier, eight years more experienced and after several victories including the world title in Portugal in 2007 and three successive Pan-American Games gold medals since 2003, Bimba still regrets what happened on Aug.25, 2004.
That day, he went into the final race at the Athens Games in the lead only needing to finish in the top 15 to secure a place on the podium.
Bimba came in 17th, was fourth overall and learnt a lesson for life: "Don't go into the water thinking you've already won."
"Lots of people say I chickened out, I don't see it like that, what I lacked was the fear of losing. I went into the water too relaxed and there is no such thing as a certain victory at this level," said Bimba, who finished fifth in Beijing.
The London Games are likely to be his last chance to correct past errors. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided that at the 2016 Rio Games, windsurfing will be replaced by kitesurfing, which Bimba only practices occasionally and is not sure he will be able to remain among the world's elite.
Bimba believes that if the change is ratified in November in a new IOC vote, then most windsurfers will change to kitesurfing.
He is determined to do all he can to take part in the games in his home city even if it means turning a page and facing a new challenge.
"You can be sure I'll practice a lot," added Bimba, who plans to compete until he is 40 and take part in the 2020 Games.
"My objective is to be at the Rio Olympics in 2016 in kite, windsurf, sailing boat or whatever."