FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour

Rio de Janeiro Open | 2 - 6 septembre 2015


Press release

New Team, Old Player

Rogerio 'Para' Ferreira (left) and Pedro Cunha Thursday morning in the mixed zone at the Rio Open on Copacabana beach. Cunha made his FIVB World Tour debut on the beach at the 2003 world championships.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, September 3, 2015 - After not playing on the FIVB World Tour for more than three years, Brazilian Olympian Pedro Cunha is making his return to the international Beach Volleyball scene this week at the US$150,000 Rio Open.

As a Main Draw “wild card” entry, the 32-year old Cunha will be playing with Allison Francioni as the 23rd-seeded men’s pair in the Rio Open that is serving as a “test” event on Copacabana beach for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.  Playing in Pool B, Cunha and Allison (with two “ls”) will be challenging compatriots Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Solberg along with teams from Canada and Venezuela.

Cunha’s third and final pool play match Friday will mark his 500th FIVB World Tour event.  Since playing and winning his first match on Copacabana beach at the 2003 FIVB World Championships with legendary Tande Ramos by defeating Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel of Switzerland, Cunha has posted a 344-153 record (69.2 winning percentage).  The next year, the Swiss collected the bronze medal at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

“Thankfully, I did not have to qualify Wednesday against all those tough Brazilian teams,” said Cunha as he strolled to the Rio Open mixed zone where he was greeted by fans and former partner Rogerio 'Para' Ferreira.  “I am anxious to play and we are hopeful to perform well before our families, friends and fans.  We have a tough pool playing against more experience teams.”

Cunha’s return will be at the same site where as a 20-year he made his FIVB World Tour debut in 2003 when he competed in the world championships with Tande.  The pair won all three of their pool matches at the FIVB worlds on Copacabana to capture their group, but Cunha and Tande were eliminated in the first-round of bracket play by compatriots and future Olympic participants Marcio Araujo and Benjamin Insfran.

Para, who captured the 1997 FIVB world championships in Los Angeles with Guilherme Marques, was Cunha’s first full-time partner on the international circuit in 2004 when the pair competed in 12 world tour events with at 37-18 match record to finish as the 18th-ranked team.

In their second event together in 2004, Cunha and Para captured a bronze medal at a FIVB World Tour stop in China and three stops later topped the podium in Carolina, Puerto Rico.  With the gold medal, Cunha became the second youngest player to win a men’s world tour gold medal as he reached the Puerto Rican podium three days after his 21th birthday.

The Puerto Rican placement was “amazing” Cunha and Para defeated four teams that participated in the Athens 2004 Olympic Games - Julien Prosser/Mark Williams of Australia, Marcio Araujo/Benjamin, Dax Holdren/Stein Metzger of the United States and Mariano Baracetti/Martin Conde of Argentina.

Speaking of the Olympics, Cunha’s last FIVB appearance was at the London 2012 Summer Games where he and Ricardo Santos placed fifth after being eliminated by eventual champions Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann of Germany.

The Rio Open will be Cunha’s 93rd FIVB World Tour event.  He has amassed seven world tour gold medals with three different partners.  Cunha has 24 podium placements during his FIVB World Tour career with 30 “final four” finishes as Allison will be his 10th international partner.

Prior to starting his FIVB World Tour career, Cunha won three medals while competing in FIVB under-21 World Championships events with three different partners.  Cunha and Anselmo Sigoli captured the 2001 title in Le Lavandou, France, before placing second at the 2002 event in Catania, Italy, with Adriana Fonseca.  Cunha regained the under-21 title in 2003 with Pedro Salgado at Saint Quay Portrieux, France.

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