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Cypriot talent Leonidou (13) debuts at U21 World Championships

Cypriot player Evita Leonidou made her FIVB debut on Wednesday at the age of 13
Larnaka, Cyprus, July 23, 2014 - “It’s the participation that counts, not the result”, big words from the youngest player of the FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Champions in Larnaka, the 13-year old Evita Leonidou, on Wednesday.

She and her 18-year old partner Antrea Kontou made their FIVB debut on Wednesday in the qualification tournament of the U21 world champs. Unfortunately it only lasted one match, losing 2-0 (21-5, 21-6) against the Canadian McNamara-twins.

With 13 years and almost 9 months Leonidou is not the youngest participant in FIVB history - that was Hungarian Viktoria Kiss with 13 years, 1 month and 19 days at the U21 in 2006 - but Leonidou is for sure the youngest player competing in Larnaka.

Her expectations were high though, so losing the match against Canada was a big disappointment. “We made some silly mistakes that cost us, the nerves didn’t help either”, Leonidou said. “But participating in such a prestigious event is a big step in my career, as I’m learning all the time.”

Leonidou is not the only member representing the family at the U21 World Championships. Her 18-year old sister Ioanna Leonidou starts on Thursday in the main draw of the FIVB U21, pairing up with Zoi Konstantopoulou. “The help that my older sister Ioanna is giving me on a daily basis is vital to my development”, she said.

Evita Leonidou first got her hands on a volleyball at the age of 5,5 at the Cypriot club Nea Salamina. She then moved to another Famagusta club, Anorthosis, and then to Apollon Limassol, her current team. As for her long-term goals, Leonidou wants to get established at Apollon and at the same time in the Cypriot national team.

Showing great ambition for her age she goes one step further saying that her dream is to play for a big club abroad and meanwhile play beach volleyball in the summer.

Leonidou wanted to thank her family for supporting her both financially and emotionally and also her coaches. “All my coaches have also played a very important role in my career and I would like to thank them for having faith in me.”

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