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Zion Bethonico talks about the brotherly love that fired him up to win Brazil’s first ever Winter Youth Olympic Games medal at Gangwon 2024

todayJanuary 22, 2024 3

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Gold medallist France’s Jonas Chollet (C), silver medallist Canada’s Anthony Shelly (L) and bronze medallist Brazil’s Zion Bethonico (R) pose for photos in the awards ceremony after the men’s snowboard cross final during the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP) (Photo by JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Zion Bethonico has been reflecting on becoming Brazil’s first ever Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) medallist and how having his brother there to share it with him made it even sweeter.

At the end of the men’s snowboard cross event on Saturday, one Bethonico stood beaming on the podium, while another looked on with tears streaming down his face.

Zion had just made history. Elder brother Noah tried to do so four years ago when he became Brazil’s first YOG snowboarder, and was now toasting his brother’s bronze.

The younger Bethonico boy may have finished third, but the celebrations among his team at the finish line made it clear the feat meant the world.

Brazil has competed at every edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games since their inauguration in 2012 and come up empty each time – until now. The nation has also never won a medal at the Olympic Winter Games.

“Finally, finally, a medal for Brazil in winter sports. I’ve proven we can do it,” Bethonico said. “This tells me that even if there’s no path, I just have to do my best and I can get there. Hard work is unbeaten.”

The Brazilian finished behind gold medallist Jonas Chollet (FRA) and Anthony Shelly (CAN), who took silver.

In his pursuit of glory on the Olympic stage, Bethonico spends half the year away from home, training and competing in North America and Europe. He spends every day with his brother, who chases the same dream.

Little wonder, then, that he credits his sibling for what he achieved at Gangwon 2024.

“My brother was there every step of the way,” Zion said. “He really helped me out in every aspect of it. I’m glad he was here. Part of this win is his as well. There’s no way I would be here if he had not gone to Lausanne 2020. He paved the way for me.”

Gangwon 2024 runs until 1 February, with more than 1,800 athletes from 78 NOCs taking part. The Winter Youth Olympic Games is filmed for live television and digital streaming on the Olympic Channel via Olympics.com and the Olympics app, with full session replays and highlights also available.

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