This is me: Rui Silva
This is Rui Silva's love letter to handball. Having first picked up a ball aged four it has been the love of his life. Here, the Portuguese star explains the deep sorrow after losing two huge influences on his life and shares his gratitude to handball and its importance on the path to his dreams. If there's one article you read this week - make it this one. You won't be disappointed.
This is Me: Rui Silva
Oh my sweet handball,
For as long as I can remember you have always been present in my life.
I did my first training when I was four years old. The ball was almost the same size I was — but my dreams were bigger than the arena.
My brother Nuno played handball. My dad Miguel and my mother Paula were players too. Was there any way I couldn’t like you?
And you’ve always been perfect to me. I never had an operation. I’ve never had a serious injury that forced me to stop for more than two months.
However, one day bad luck knocked on my door. My father’s death changed me a lot as a player and as a person, but you were always there for me. It was you that I turned to, many times, to clear my head.
I felt it was too soon. I felt such strong pain when my father left.
He strengthened me a lot, giving me the ability to adapt and extolling in me the importance of moving forward. But it cost me a lot.
At a certain point I started to question a lot and even you, handball, at a bad time in my life weren't going the best way either. Everything was failing.
But I felt that this huge passion that they always transmitted to me and also because you were something that my father liked so much and he did everything for me to succeed, made me have even stronger to continue and never give up. His dream was then my dream!
Everything that happened to me made me direct all my strength to what he liked. I always knew that it was my father Miguel's great passion. And I couldn't let him down. I had that very clear.
And of course my amazing mom. I can never forget everything you have done for me. We lived all this in a very intense way. In good and bad times!
We exchanged hugs that said it all. Shared tears and smiles of hope. You are really a great woman and I am eternally grateful to you, Paula. You are the best mother in the world.
And you were always there for me too, handball.
Later, I went from the worst feeling in my life to the best when my daughter Carminho was born. Two moments that completely changed my way of seeing life and our presence in this world — for the good and for the bad.
Carminho has greatly enhanced my life. Being a father is a unique feeling. It makes me have more obligations to myself. It makes me more demanding. I have the responsibility to create my daughter and this is also translated into the field.
Carminho is such a huge influence for me and makes me want to achieve even more in my career.
And you, Sara. My wife. “Always present” is your motto. You have and always will play an important role in my life. You were by my side when my father passed away. I won’t forget that.
When I moved from Lisbon to Porto, you managed to reconcile everything to come with me too and to support me very closely. You know perfectly that I got involved a lot in handball and you are always ready to help me with everything.
I have a huge admiration for you and never forget that you are an essential pillar in everything I am.
And how good it will be now to have them in the stands cheering for me. Coming back to you, my sweet handball.
I always wanted to play in the EHF Champions League — it was one of my biggest dreams. But you had the right moment in store for me: at Dragon Arena and a debut win by 10 goals against Presov.
I managed to score two goals, but that was the least important part of a day that I hold so dear. In the past, I only saw the best players in the world on television and now they are part of my everyday life. I feel that I have gone up to such a level and that I am really prepared for this dimension.
But I always kept in mind that reaching to this level would not be enough for me. It must go on! Staying at the top is the most difficult thing in an athlete's life. I know that.
I want to enjoy and walk in this world of the best players for many more years. If you don't mind too much, be nice to me, handball.
After what happened to my father, I never thought I would suffer so much again.
Handball, you gave me the opportunity to meet Quintana, who really became a great friend to me. Such a special person and an outstanding athlete. He was the best goalkeeper I've ever seen playing. I felt like any other player but him could leave.
Our greatest strength has always been the collective, but I had the perception that only with a great Quintana we could dream of great results - even greater than those we accomplished.
Any player could fail, but with Quintana on our backs, anything was still possible.
We created a fantastic relationship that is eternalised in my heart.
And I know that now there is also the reverse of the coin. I have to make him proud and fulfil what he most wanted — always give my best and work to the limit to achieve much more.
I will, on my way, seek strength from the people I loved and who are no longer with me. I feel them in me, dear handball.
And you know that Quintana tattoo I have on my arm? It was done impulsively, but without any regrets. A week and a half before the decisive game against France I decided to do it.
Oh, that game. One of the most special games of my life. That ball recovery. Dribbling speed. The jump. And that shot. A historic goal at the last second, I will never forget!
There are things that have no explanation, but I felt that Quintana was there in that historic moment for our country.
Participating in the Olympic Games was the realisation of another dream. With so few spots it was very difficult to make it. There was a 1% or 2% chance, but we went after it — and we got it.
16 athletes made history for Portuguese handball.
And the possibility to make the Portuguese people happy is one of the greatest riches of an athlete.
Regarding the Olympic Games, I really had a unique experience.
In terms of results, I feel that we could have done more, because we had the quality to do so. However, all that involvement perhaps dazzled us a little.
But, at the same time, the fact that we were there, that we had all those experiences, took us to another competitive level.
I have in my memory the moments when I would go to the gym to train and see all those Olympic medal-winning athletes training.
They work really hard. They fight hard for their dreams. And maybe it made me realize that I can work even harder.
The Olympic village is a fabulous experience. It is indeed an experience for life — perhaps the best of all.
But I hope to live many more with you by my side, dear handball.
Thank you for everything.