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Former Triple-Jump Champ Dies

May 30, 1999

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) _ Joao Carlos de Oliveira, who held the world triple jump record for a decade, has died after a month-long battle with lung and liver ailments.

He died late Saturday at the Beneficencia Portugesa Hospital in Sao Paulo, hospital spokesman Manuel Veras said.

The body of the Brazilian sports hero was taken to the Legislative Assembly in Sao Paulo on Sunday and draped in the national flag.

Burial is Monday in his hometown of Pindamonhangaba, about 90 miles northeast of Sao Paulo.

Oliveira was in a car accident in 1981 and his right leg had to be amputated. His car was hit head-on by the car of a drunken driver going the wrong way at night on a highway.

In 1975, he set the world record with a jump of 58 feet, 8 1/4 inches at the Pan American Games in Mexico, a mark that stood for 10 years.

He also won bronze medals in the 1976 and 1980 Olympics, and Brazilians dubbed him ``Joao do Pulo″ _ Portuguese for ``Jumping John.″

``He continues to be for me one of the 10 best athletes the world has seen,″ said Oliveira’s former trainer, Pedro do Toledo. ``He could have done much more if he had been born at a different time, in a different country.″

Oliveira reportedly become depressed after unsuccessful ventures in business and politics. Still, he had wanted to compete in the Paralympics in Sydney next year ``if not to win, to set an example,″ Toledo said.

Brazil’s sports minister Rafael Greca said Oliveira ``enters the gallery of Brazilian Olympic heroes″ and should be remembered for his conquests, not for the period in which his life ``fell down.″

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