Lausanne, Switzerland, August 5, 2011 – Brazil’s Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego have been mentioned a lot lately as favourites for the London 2012 Olympic Games beach volleyball title next year. They have only been working together since 2010, but have been very successful this season, winning four FIVB Swatch World Tour events and finishing first at the World Championships in Rome in June. For Emanuel, London will be his fourth Olympic Games, after placing ninth in Sydney (2000), first in Athens (2004) and third in Beijing (2008). Alison will make his debut in London.
Young Alison was jumping with joy two years ago when he got an unexpected request from one of the world’s best beach volleyball players. Two-time world champion and Olympic gold medallist Emanuel Rego had just parted with long-time teammate Ricardo Santos, moved to Rio de Janeiro and invited Alison to play with him. It was the start of a very promising career together.
Now, almost two years later, the Brazilian duo has already collected 13 medals. They started with three silvers and three bronze on the FIVB Swatch World Tour in 2010, to add a sensational four gold medals, one silver and one bronze so far this season, plus the 2011 world title in Rome. They seem to be on their way to finish on top in the 2011 World Tour ranking and are likely candidates for Olympic gold next year.
One of their success factors is their coach, Leticia Pessoa. The Brazilian has been working with top teams in beach volleyball for twenty years, including Shelda Bruno and Adriana Behar. Pessoa led this famous Brazilian team to silver medals at the Olympic Games in Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004. She has been coaching Alison since he was 20 years old.
“In the beginning it was hard for Alison”, Pessoa explains. “He had to leave his family behind to come and work with me and has been living on his own since he was very young. But he is a very responsible guy, he pays his bills on time and has a good discipline.” Alison had been playing with Harley Marques when Emanuel asked him. “Alison was thrilled and said yes immediately. He thought is was a great honour.”
As other Brazilian men’s teams seem to struggle with new combinations just one year before the London Games – Harley traded in Pedro Salgado for Thiago Barbosa and last month Ricardo Santos decided to exchange Marcio Araujo for Pedro Cunha – Alison and Emanuel are a match made in heaven.
Even Pessoa is a bit surprised by the speed of their progress. “I expected that they would be a good team. And I work with them to be the best, but that they would be this successful already I did not expect.” Veteran Emanuel had already proven himself with a very impressive track record, winning over 70 FIVB World Tour titles, world titles with Loiola (1999 Marseille) and Ricardo (2003 Rio de Janeiro) and Olympic gold in Athens 2004, also with Ricardo. Above all Emanuel is the overall FIVB Swatch World Tour leader in career earnings and gold medals.
The talented 25-year old Alison, on the other hand, is only at the beginning of his career. Before his alliance with Emanuel he had won three World Tour gold medals since 2006, one with Pedro Cunha and two with Harley. With the latter he also finished second at the World Championships in 2009 in Stavanger.
Pessoa saw in him as a rough diamond, with an excellent physique (2.03m, 106kg) for a blocker. “Alison is a quick learner and a very responsible guy for his age. He practices a lot and has good discipline.” For Pessoa the combination with defence expert Emanuel is one in a million. “Emanuel is very experienced, he can teach Alison a lot. He is very good in controlling his mind all the time, channelling his emotions in the game. He likes to teach Alison and is very patient with him. Emanuel is also very coachable and a great role model. He even encouraged Alison to learn English, as any top player should speak it.”
Pessoa is not afraid that her team is peaking too early for the Olympics. “There is still room for improvement. They can get even better. Alison for example needs to improve his setting and serving.” The only disadvantage of this team is Emanuel’s age, Pessoa says. “Our goal is the Olympics next year. I do not know what they will do afterwards. For now it is London.”
She admits that given their ongoing progress Alison and Emanuel are the team to beat next year in London. In her opinion fellow Brazilians Marcio and Ricardo would have been title contenders as well, but they split just a few weeks ago. “I do not understand why. For me they are a good second behind Alison and Emanuel.” Pessoa says that the national federation will take more control over who is playing with whom in the next Olympic cycle.
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|Alison and Emanuel are the team to beat next year in London|
Leticia Pessoa's World Championships results as coach:
1999 Gold medal with Adriana Behar/Shelda
2001 Gold medal with Adriana Behar/Shelda
2003 Silver medal with Adriana Behar/Shelda
2009 Silver medal with Harley/Alison
2011 Gold medal with Emanuel/Alison
Leticia Pessoa's Olympic Games results as coach:
2000 Silver medal with Adriana Behar/Shelda
2004 Silver medal with Adriana Behar/Shelda
43cm of difference between Leticia Pessoa and her protégé Alison Cerruti (203cm)