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Avans student is a talented Brazilian rower: ‘I practise fourteen times a week’

His mother was once a star in the Brazilian national volleyball team and his father is a passionate rower. It’s no wonder that Bernardo Boggian has been a keen athlete all his life. Currently, the student of International Business is rowing every day. His goal? Rowing with Brazil’s giants.

Bernardo started his career as a promising tennis player, in Rio de Janeiro. Everything went smoothly, until he suffered a knee injury. Although he was forced to give up tennis, there was no doubt that he would return to sports after his recovery. “My dad was a rower, my mother was on the Brazilian national volleyball team. ‘Find another sport once your knee has healed’, my dad said.”

A natural
Because the damage to his knee was permanent, Bernardo set out to find a sport that put little or no pressure on the joint. “After trying all kinds of sports, I found that the kick I got out of rowing came closest to that of tennis.” It quickly became clear that he was a natural born rower. After three years of practice, he was selected for the Brazilian national team. He would go on to compete all around the world for the next couple of years. The team that included Bernardo came in ninth at the 2015 World Championships, a record for a country that has no significant track record in rowing.

A year after this exceptional achievement, Bernardo was forced to quit. His knee got the better of him once again. Bernardo was forced to undergo major surgery, followed by a long period of rehabilitation. He describes it as the most difficult period he has ever gone through. “I was unable to do anything at all”, he says.

‘Although I’m not nearly good enough at the moment, I am extremely driven’

From Rio to Breda
After months of recovery, Bernardo took up rowing again in 2016. Since then, he’s been training two times a day, seven days a week. Last August, Bernardo moved from Rio to Breda to join the Bachelor of International Business at Avans. “There is no such study programme in Brazil.”

Meanwhile, Bernardo has continued his rowing training in Brabant at Tilburg student rowing club Vidar. He hopes to become a top-level rower once again. In April, he will take part in the qualifiers for the Brazilian national team. “Although I’m not nearly good enough at the moment, I am extremely driven. I practise fourteen times a week.”

He finds it tough to combine studying, top-level sport and social activities. “There just aren’t enough hours in a day. I skip studying more often than I would like.”

Fixed salary
Bernardo does not think he will ever become a full-time rower. “There’s no security for elite athletes. You never know whether you’ll be able to earn enough to make a living. A part of me also thinks it would be nice to have a fixed salary. A straightforward job, preferably from nine to five.”

Sport is important to his parents but that’s not why Bernardo himself is so passionate about it. “If I’m happy with what I’m doing, then they are too. It doesn’t matter whether I’m rowing at elite-level or not.” Although his father is proud to have his son follow in his footsteps, he wants Bernardo to write his own rowing story. “He loves me sharing ‘his’ passion, but the last thing he wants to be is an interfering father. I have to find my own way and he knows this.”

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