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In the 2012 Olympics in London, Brazil was represented by 259 athletes. Of these, 111 received Athlete Grant funding, the largest individual sponsorship program in the world. One of them, judoka Sarah Menezes from Piauí, returned to Brazil with a gold medal shining on her chest.
Created in 2005 by President Lula, the program benefits high performance athletes who obtain good results in national and international competitions.
The goal is to ensure minimum conditions for them to devote themselves exclusively to training and local, South American, Pan American, World, Olympic and Paralympic competitions.
The Ministry of Sports grant is offered in six Athlete sports categories: Base, Student, National, International, Olympic/Paralympic and Podium. The priority is for those who practice Olympic and Paralympic Games sports. Since 2012, the grant beneficiary has been allowed to have other sponsorships, as well. Thus, successful athletes can count on more than one source of funding.
The program invested R$ 521 million through the awarding of 43,000 grants between 2005 and 2014.
In 2014,the Athlete Grant program reached its fullest extent, covering 7,752 athletes in the following categories: Student (313), Base (290), National (4,875), International (1,808), Olympic/Paralympic (247) and Podium (219). Grants range from R$ 370 (Student and Base categories) to R$ 3,100 (Olympic/Paralympic), while the Podium category awards higher and more variable amounts.
Placing Brazil among the top ten countries in the Olympics and in the top five in the Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016 is the goal of the Brazil Medals 2016 Plan, launched in 2012 by President Dilma.
The plan is investing R$ 1 billion in the Olympic cycle that began in 2013 and ends in 2016. Of these, two-thirds come from the Federal Budget (OGU) and one-third from state-owned companies. These funds are new; that is, they will be added to the R$ 1.5 billion that the federal government already has invested in Olympic sports.
One of the main actions of the 2016 Brazil Medals Plan, the Podium Grant program distributes monthly amounts between R$ 5,000 and R$ 15,000 for athletes who are among the 20 best in the world and can compete for a place on a podium in 2016.
In addition to athletes, coaches also can receive grants (up to R$ 10,000 per month).
The federal government also is working to build or renovate 22 training centers (21 Olympic sports and one for the Paralympic Games), following the recommendation of the Brazilian Paralympic Committee (CPB) to unify all sports in one location.