Cape Verde para-athlete Keula Nidreia Pereira Semedo failed to qualify for the Women’s 200m T11 semi-finals by coming last in her heat but got a surprise package after her guide knelt down to propose marriage.
Semedo guide Manuel Antonio Vaz de Vega went down on his knees immediately after the race to propose to right on the track an action which immediately attracted applause even before Semendo’s response.
The para-athlete’s guide rushed over to Semedo, who is visually impaired and was wearing a blindfold, at the National Stadium and ushered over the other competitors and their respective helpers to join them for their special moment.
Semedo immediately said yes which led to cheers and applause from the other athletes once their guides filled them in on what was going on, as the newly-engaged couple embraced on the track.
The Paralympic sprinter then showed her ring to the cameras, clearly delighted with the news despite her disappointment on the track.
The 32-year-old told the official Olympics and Paralympics website before the Games that her guide was the biggest ‘influence’ on her career.
Born in Cape Verde in 1989, Semedo took up athletics at the age of 15 after being encouraged by one of her teachers at school. During her final years in the Atlantic country, she was awarded Medal of Sports Merit from her national government,
She moved to Portugal with her mother in the early 2010s in order for them to be closer to her father who worked in Europe, taking up sport again in 2012 after a short break due to their relocation.
The para-athlete describes herself as a digital influencer on her social media pages and also models, while she received a diploma in physiotherapy in Lisbon.
Semedo’s good news is not the first proposal seen at the Olympic or Paralympic Games over in Tokyo this summer.
Moments after fencer Maria Belen Perez Maurice was knocked out of the Tokyo Olympics in late July, her coach made a dramatic lunge of his own by flashing a handwritten sign that read ‘Will you marry me? Please’.
It was the second attempt by the Argentine fencer’s coach and partner of 17 years, Lucas Guillermo Saucedo, after his 2010 proposal at the World Fencing Championships was rebuffed.
Thankfully for Saucedo, this time Perez Maurice said yes, before she broke down in tears.
Saucedo revealed he asked an Olympic volunteer at the venue for a sheet of paper to write his proposal on. The volunteer refused at first but agreed after Saucedo offered to trade him an Olympic pin for the paper.