Olympic champion Zanetti threatens nationality switch

Rio de Janeiro, April 22 (IANS) Brazil’s Olympic gymnastics champion Arthur Zanetti has threatened to switch nationalities in a bid to successfully defend his London 2012 gold medal at the Rio 2016 Games.

Zanetti became the first Brazilian to win an Olympic gymnastics medal when he eclipsed China’s defending champion Chen Yibing for gold in the men’s rings event last August, reports Xinhua.

But despite the promise of new investments in the sport by Brazilian officials, Zanetti says he is exasperated by the poor state of gymnastics in his homeland.

“When I won the gold medal in London everybody said my life was going to change but it hasn’t changed at all,” Zanetti told TV Globo Sunday.

“I have already begun thinking about competing for another country if the opportunity arises. I would do it with a broken heart, because I am Brazilian and I like to be Brazilian. But if another country offered me what I needed, I would go.”

Zanetti, who trains at the the Sao Caetano do Sul gymnasium in Sao Paulo, is forced to share facilities with 300 other gymnasts.

Despite a wave of interest from aspiring new athletes following the London Olympics, the club has been forced to turn away potential members due to a lack of investments.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) allows an athlete to represent a new country at the Games three years after changing nationality.

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