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Lupo & Nicolai


Having teamed up towards the end of the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai quickly progressed and won World Tour silver and bronze en route to their debut Olympic Games at London 2012. They qualified in style, in front of their home fans at that year’s Rome Grand Slam.

In London they knocked out defending champions Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser before being eliminated at the quarterfinal stage, but it was another sign of the pair’s potential.

Three World Tour gold, four silver, four bronze and two European Championships gold followed in the four years building up to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games.

In Rio they hit their stride to reach the gold medal match where they lost 2-0 (21-19, 21-17) to reigning world champions and local favourites Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt. 

Lupo and Nicolai’s run had captivated beach volleyball fans back home who woke up in the middle of the night to cheer on the pair from either side of Italy’s boot; Lupo from Rome and Nicolai from Ortona on the Adriatic coast. 

Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo with their silver medals at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

“When you lose something, it is a little bit difficult, but we have a silver medal, so we are a so proud of our team,” Nicolai said at the time.

“They are the best for sure. They won the World Championships and now won the Olympic medal. They are the best team. Today we tried to give everything on the court, but they played better, and they are the champions.”

The 29-year-old Lupo and 31-year-old Nicolai carried their form into 2017 where they ended the year with bronze from the Hamburg 2017 FIVB World Tour Finals and another European title, but halfway through 2018 injuries and a loss of form took their toll and by the end of 2019 they had failed to win another World Tour medal. 

They did, however, book a place for Italy at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games by winning the FIVB Tokyo Beach Volleyball Olympic Qualification Tournament at Golden Beach in Haiyang, China in September 2019.

“We are thrilled to clinch this berth early as we now can concentrate on Tokyo while competing on the World Tour,” said Nicolai.

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