September 20 - Brazil should try to match its astonishing emergence as a global economic super power by trying to make as much progress on the sporting field by the time Rio de Janeiro hosts the 2016 Olympics, the country's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (pictured) urged today.

Lula was the inspiration behind Rio's successful bid and is expected to retain a close interest in the preparations for the Games, even though he is due to step down as President at the end of this year.

"If we don't begin [preparing] right now, we will miss the train," said Lula.

"First of all, we have to believe that this country is not satisfied with being second, that we are inferior to no one.

"If we are working to be the fifth economic power in six or seven years, then we can do more on the sporting front."

Brazil were ranked 23rd at the last Olympics in Beijing two years ago with a total of 15 medals, including three gold.

Its best ever performance in the Olympics had come in 2004 at Athens when they finished 16th with five gold medals, including a gold for sailor Robert Scheidt (pictured) in the Laser class.

Carlos Nuzman, the President of the Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB), responded to Lula's call by setting the team the target of finishing among the top ten nations in the overall medals table when Rio de Janeiro hosts the Games in 2016.

"I am going to set out the goals for the 2016 Olympics," said Nuzman, who is also chairman of the Organising Committee for Rio 2016.  

"We're going to work so that Brazil is in the top 10 of the 2016 Olympics."

Brazil Sports Minister Orlando Silva promised a considerable increase in funding to help them achieve the target.

"We need to arrive in the 2016 Olympics more prepared than ever before with more athletes and with more possibilities to win medals," he said after attending the meeting with Lula and Nuzman.

"If we compare Brazil to other countries - like China, the United States, Britain or Australia - then we are far behind our competitors.

"To go head-to-head, we must invest three times more than we do now."

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