Patrícia Mamona, Auriol Dongmo and Pedro Pablo Pichardo made history for Portugal by bringing home three gold medals from the 2021 European Athletics Indoor Championships held in the Polish city of Toruń between Friday and Sunday (March 4-7).
This is the first time Portugal won three gold medals at the same European Athletics Indoor Championship. The historic run saw the country finish second in the medal table behind only The Netherlands (which won four gold medals) and ahead of the UK (two).
Auriol Dongmo, a Cameroonian-born athlete representing Portugal, was the first to taste victory on Friday, winning the Women’s Shot Put competition with a 19.34m throw. It was her first European title, having already won five gold medals at the African Games and African Championships whilst representing Cameroon.
“I said to myself, ‘Auriol, the first spot is yours, it is no one else’s’ and I threw with that thought in my head,” she said about her medal-winning throw, cited by Portugal’s Athletics Federation.
Portugal’s impressive display continued on Sunday as Pedro Pichardo emerged as the winner of the Men’s Triple Jump final with a 17.30m jump, a feat repeated later that day by Patrícia Mamona who won the Women’s Triple Jump final with a 14.53m jump, an all-time national record.
Pichardo, a Cuban-born athlete who started representing Portugal in 2017, said he was very grateful after the win.
“After losing a medal in Doha (Pichardo finished fourth at the World Championships), winning the gold medal here means a lot, especially because it is a way of acknowledging what Portugal has done for me, giving me the opportunity to continue doing what I want which is jumping, so I am very grateful for that,” he said.
For Mamona, the gold medal performance also represented a personal victory over Covid-19, which left her bed-ridden less than two months ago.
“I was in bed a few days; it was hard to even get up to go to the bathroom,” she said, explaining why she broke down in tears following the victory.
“If you had told me a month ago that I would be able to be here and become European champion, I wouldn’t have believed it. As soon as I recovered, I felt like I had something to prove and this idea that I had to prove to myself that I was able to turn this around never left my head,” she explained.
Meanwhile, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Prime Minister António Costa have both praised the three athletes for their amazing performances as well as everyone else who represented Portugal at the competition.