Adilson da Silva may be the solitary Brazilian in the field for golf’s Olympic Games return, but he will not be alone at Reserva de Marapendi this week.
The 44-year-old will be carrying the hopes, good wishes and support of 200 million of his fellow countrymen when he hits the first golf shot in 112 years as part of the opening three-ball at 7.30am on Thursday morning.
Da Silva, who now resides and plays in South Africa, appreciates that he also has a huge weight of responsibility on his shoulders to not only perform well, but to showcase the game of golf in a country which hopes to see a dramatic rise in interest in the sport and also participation numbers in the post-Olympic glow.
De Silva admitted he is thrilled to be handed the honour of driving golf into a new Olympic era and said enthusiastically: “It’s very exciting, especially now that I know I’m going to be hitting the first shot. It’s something that’s really, really special. Sometimes I just think, wow, what did I do to deserve such an honour? Really, it’s huge.”
The Brazilian is not only excited to be an Olympian, but recognises the legacy that Rio 2016 will leave behind once the athletes have departed the first Games to be held in South America.
He said: “Absolutely. The legacy is very important. Obviously they are going to turn it into a public course and I think that’s going to help a lot of people and bring more interest around the game. What we need is for people to see us on TV. We are still very young in golf terms, but I think, it’s a big step for us.
“I’ve been saying that this is not just a game. It’s an experience and I think it makes you a better person. You learn a lot of things from golf. You learn to be responsible. You learn to be fair and honest. It’s a lesson in life and it’s a way of life. I wish more Brazilians could play because it’s a good lesson and it’s amazing.
“But we need to work and we need to get the kids here. We need to get the ball rolling. I think it’s a big difference in a country like South Africa where I live. They start early there and then by the time they are teenagers, they are ready to go on Tour and that’s what it’s about.
“But look, it’s a process. It’s about growth, it’s about learning, and it’s growing with it. It’s a big learning curve. But as I say, it’s a wonderful game and we’re very lucky to host it (the Olympic Games). And I am lucky to be hitting that first shot.”