When Rodrigao Santos left the London 2012 Olympic Games court
with his third Olympic medal around his neck, few of the Brazilian
fans that thronged the Earl’s Court arena believed that they would
ever see him in action in Brazil colours again.
Sure, the middle blocker played for Qatari club Al Rayyan at the
FIVB Club World Championships in October, but from then on many
expected him to join the likes of captain Giba, Serginho and Ricardo
Garcia in retirement.
There would have been few who begrudged Rodrigao, or any of the
others, a bit of time to relax and take stock of their careers. After all,
they had helped Brazil to gold at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games
and silver at Beijing 2008 and London 2012. On top of which they
also won three FIVB World Championship golds – in 2002, 2006 and
2010 –
not to mention seven FIVB World League titles.
Despite the chance to look back on a success-stuffed career and
polish his medals, Rodrigao decided he wanted one last challenge
and so decided to try his hand at beach volleyball, hardly a sport
where Brazil have been lacking success in recent years.
I thought about moving to beach volleyball last May because I knew
I wasn’t going to be playing in the national team for much longer,”
Rodrigao told VolleyWorld. “There is also a Superleague rule that
limits the number of star players a team has and since I’m worth
seven points, there was no space.
There were two options, play outside of the country or play beach
volleyball. I wanted to stay home and spend more time with my family
so I chose beach volleyball for family reasons.” The 34-year-old made
his beach volleyball debut at the Rio de Janeiro leg of the Banco do
Brasil National Tour. He teamed up with veteran Carlão Arruda, but