At the age of 21, Pernambuco's sprinter Mirelle Leite is closer to fulfilling one of her greatest dreams. "I want to be the first indigenous Brazilian athlete to represent the country in Olympic Games. This is the energy that moves me towards qualifying for Paris 2024," says the new ambassador of Time Neoenergia, a native of the Xukuru Indian reservation, in the district of Cimbres, municipality of Pesqueira, in Pernambuco. With the company's sponsorship, the two-time South American under-23 champion in the 3,000-meter steeplechase will start training professionally, fully dedicated to conquering a place in the track and field team that will go to the French capital next year.
If in the past Mirelle Leite conciliated the sport with a day job, now she has the opportunity to raise the quality of her preparation with adequate equipment and a more intense routine in official athletics tracks in the city of Bragança Paulista, in São Paulo. Before, the athlete had difficulties training in Pesqueira, about 200 kilometers from the capital. Present in Pernambuco, Neoenergia serves about four million customers in energy distribution throughout the state.
In the absence of an appropriate place for training and unable to be in Recife every day, Mirelle prepared for the competitions in an improvised area. Located in front of the Castle of Pesqueira, the land of the old jockey club of the city, more than 40 years ago, stopped hosting horse races and part of the area was occupied by houses. The measurements of the track, however, have resisted time and urban growth, remaining with dimensions similar to athletics tracks. Literally overcoming difficulties, the concrete tables, installed in the town square, served as barriers for training jumps in obstacle courses.
"I have a trajectory of struggle and perseverance like so many Brazilian women. My strength comes from nature, which offers us so many renewable sources. I am very happy and grateful for being part of the Neoenergia Team. This gives me extra energy to overcome challenges and do everything within my reach to honor this partnership," says Mirelle Leite.
The athlete has been dedicated since childhood, when she found her vocation in the sport. Despite the financial difficulties experienced with her mother and her seven siblings, and the mourning for the loss of her father at a young age, Mirelle started to participate in competitions as a child, at the age of 11, even though she couldn't afford to buy tennis shoes and clothes suitable for competitions. "My mother worked hard as a craftswoman and day laborer to ensure the necessary food for the household. The situation improved a little after I started to have my first victories with prize money. When I became a mother at 14, I worked during the day and trained at dawn while my son slept," she recalls.
For the young indigenous woman, the possibility of reaching the Paris Olympic Games represents an important milestone to expand the social inclusion of native peoples in Brazil. Mirelle Leite is one of the promises of Brazilian athletics. Besides the South American title (2021-2022), the athlete won the Brazilian title in the under-18 category (2019), and was twice Brazilian under-20 champion, in 2020, and under-23, in 2021.
The arrival of Mirelle Leite reinforces Team Neoenergia, which already has two athletes: the Brazilian under-23 road cycling and time trial champion, Ana Vitória Magalhães, aka Tota; and the three-time world kitesurfing champion, Bruna Kajiya. Besides encouraging the inclusion of women in national sports, the sponsorship reaffirms the strengthening and humanization of the brand in the country. Neoenergia also has a contract with the Brazilian Soccer Confederation (CBF) to sponsor the Brazilian Women's Soccer Teams, both the main and the youth teams, and the Neoenergia Women's Brasileirão.
"Neoenergia has consolidated its position as the leading company in the energy sector in supporting women's sports. Through sponsorship, our goal is to connect the brand with the hearts of all Brazilians. In this way, we also contribute for our athletes to conquer their goals with a lot of energy and determination," says Lorenzo Perales, Neoenergia's marketing director.
The executive explains that during the term of the contract, Mirelle Leite will be present in the company's digital platforms, where Neoenergia stands out. "Neoenergia leads, in the segment, the digital interaction with Brazilians, including, among other results, the largest number of followers on Instagram. The growth on this platform reached 191% in the first three months of the year," he adds. The athlete will be present, mainly, in company events and content on social media. The Neoenergia brand will also be displayed by the athlete on her uniforms, in training and in competitions of relevance in the sport.