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Team of the Week: Brazil's Evandro and Bruno Schmidt

Lausanne, Switzerland, June 8, 2020 – Any time two elite beach volleyball players decide to join forces, expectations soon rocket. But results do not always match expectations immediately. Which was certainly the case for Brazil’s Evandro Gonçalves and Bruno Schmidt.

Their reunion was the product of a series of shocking moves in Brazilian beach volleyball following the Rio 2016 Olympics. Less than two years after winning gold on Copacabana with Alison Cerutti, Bruno opted to end their partnership and to rejoin former partner Pedro Solberg.

Evandro, who was fresh from winning the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships with Andre Loyola, was directly affected by the move as he saw his partner continue his career with Alison. He too picked a former partner, Vitor Felipe, to move on.

Evandro and Bruno both had two partners following the Rio 2016 Olympics until they joined forces

After a year of less-than-ideal results for all Brazilian teams competing on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, a new shuffle took place resulting in a dream outcome for many fans of the sport in the country, uniting Evandro’s phenomenal serving ability and Bruno’s impressive backcourt skills.

“To play with Bruno is an honour,” Evandro said at the time. “It’s fantastic to have an Olympic champion by my side, but I’m well aware that it also increases my responsibility. I’m very excited to pursue our goals together.”

The move happened in February 2019, just a month before they made their debut as a team at the four star event in Doha, Qatar, which was the first that counted towards the ranking created by the Brazilian Federation to determine which teams would fill the nation’s berths at the Tokyo Olympic Games should the country secure two spots at the end of the qualification process.

The 17th-place finish they had that week repeated a month later in Xiamen, China, and then things started to get better for the team. The 33-year-old Bruno and the 29-year-old Evandro started to show glimpses of the team they could be when they took a silver medal in Jinjiang, China, at the end of May.

Less than a month later, they finally fulfilled their potential by topping the podium in another four star tournament, this one in Warsaw, Poland, where they defeated world number ones Anders Mol and Christian Sørum of Norway in the gold medal match. 

The season ended on a high for the duo with top five finishes in eight of the ten last tournaments of 2019, including a bronze medal at the Gstaad Major. Even with a disappointing 17th-place finish at the World Championships, they accomplished their goal of being one of the top two Brazilian teams and climbed up to the fourth spot of the world rankings.

“The start of the year was difficult,” Bruno, the World Tour’s Most Outstanding Player in 2015 and 2016, recalled. “I was dealing with a long-standing knee injury and Evandro had to make some changes in his game for us to play together as he moved from the right to the left and became a full-time blocker. The way we play, our team relies more on him than on me and at the end of the season I saw him really understanding and appreciating his role. I hope we can pick up from where we left off and continue growing when competition resumes.”

If all goes as planned, the Brazilians will be set for their second Olympic appearance in the summer of 2021 as Evandro was ninth in Rio with Pedro. And if chemistry on the court might have taken some time to develop, off the sand their relationship is a source of motivation for the team.

“Winning an Olympic gold medal is my dream, but if there’s something I want more than that is to give Bruno his second one,” Evandro, a five-time winner of the World Tour Best Server award, added. “He’s a fantastic player and an ever better human being, so he deserves it more than anyone. I’d say that seeing him winning his second gold medal would make me happier than getting my first one.” 

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