Brazilian Paddler Makes History at Both Olympics and Paralympics

Bruna Alexandre will be just the third athlete ever to compete in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
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Bruna Alexandre was on edge when she got a late Sunday night phone call from the Brazilian national table tennis coach.

“I thought there was a problem,” recalled the decorated one-armed athlete, fresh off a Para Table Tennis gold medal at the Montenegro Open last month.

But her coach’s call was a dream come true – she had been selected to compete in this year’s Olympic Games.

She will be just the third athlete ever to compete in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“It wasn’t until the Table Tennis Confederation posted it on Instagram that I actually believed it,” she said with a chuckle.

Alexandre is the first Brazilian to compete in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, after South African runner Oscar Pistorius and Polish table tennis player Natalia Partyka.

At just a few months old, Alexandre lost her arm due to a blood clot. She started playing table tennis at the age of seven and was soon discovered by Brazil’s Paralympic team.

That launched a journey that has earned her a bronze medal at the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016 and silver in Tokyo 2021. Now, 22 years after first picking up the racket, she will realize the once-distant dream of also becoming an Olympic athlete this summer in Paris.

She will have one of the longest stays in the Olympic Village, arriving July 15 for the Olympic Games and staying for the Paralympic Games that will take place from August 28 to September 8.

Alexandre hopes to be an example for others with disabilities around the world.

“The legacy I want to leave behind is that people can do anything — whether you are missing an arm or a leg, it doesn’t matter.”

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