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Grimalts learn the tricks of the trade to reach the top

Chile's Esteban and Marco Grimalt are seeking their way to reach the top, carrying the legacy of their families and their passion to improve their game
Lausanne, Switzerland, May 22, 2014 – Chilean pair Esteban and Marco Grimalt have been living the dream on the South American Beach Volleyball Tour for the past two seasons where they captured 12 medals in 14 events since 2013. 

Now, these Chileans are seeking to continue their learning about the sport while showing constant improvement on the international circuit. The Grimalts paced their way, starting with a 33rd in last year’s FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship in Poland, and then ninth and fifth in their next three FIVB World Tour stints. 

Their fifth place finish came at the recently concluded Puerto Vallarta Open where they posted their best FIVB World Tour finish after winning their pool and first elimination match, before being ousted from the event in two sets by German Olympians Eric Koreng and Finn Dittelbach. The Grimalts’ FIVB World Tour stop in Sao Paulo, Brazil last October where they placed ninth, sets their record of winning eight out of their last 11 matches on the international circuit. 

With the 2014 FIVB season rankings including points earned on continental tours, the Grimalts are currently the No. 1 ranked men’s team on the World Tour – highlighting their three gold and three silver medals in the South American Tour. The Chileans won the 2014 stops in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina, with second place finishes in Chile, Uruguay and Bolivia. 

"We are a team with a good side out,” said 23-year old Esteban. “We have a lot to learn. The key is playing consistently to gain the experience of competing against the best teams in the world." 

Marco Grimalt, Esteban’s 24-year old cousin, feels that playing with a family member gives the team mental strength and provides a lot of support. 

The Grimalts are part of the “First Family of Volleyball” in Chile. 

“In the history of Chilean volleyball, the Grimalt name has played a very important role in the development of the sport in our country,” said Marco. 

"My mother, Monica Fuster, was on the national team and considered as the best player in Chile,” said Esteban. “She was the captain of the national team for many years. On my father's side, Jaime Grimalt also played in the national team for many years and with five brothers and a sister (aunt and uncles), all of whom were former members of the national team. For more than 30 years, there has been a Grimalt on the national team. Also, my uncles Ricardo and Rodrigo played beach volleyball and were known as the “Grimalt brothers”. 

The Grimalt cousins’ presence in the World Tour is also giving some significance on the growth of the sport ever since the Grimalt brothers’ time. Esteban and Marco competed in the 300th FIVB World Tour event in Puerto Vallarta, while their uncles Ricardo and Rodrigo competed and placed 16th overall in the first recognised FIVB beach volleyball tournament in Rio de Janeiro in 1987. The Grimalt Brothers had to split the USD400 prize money then, but Marco and Esteban shared a USD3,375 check after placing fifth in Mexico. 

The Grimalts took some time out to participate in a Q&A session at the Puerto Vallarta Open before their next stint at the FIVB World Tour for the Moscow Grand Slam from June 11 to 15.

Q1: Pre-season training? Where, when and with any other teams? Do you have a coach?

Marco Grimalt: "We spent January training in Rio de Janeiro with our Brazilian coach Eduardo Garrido."

Garrido played on the FIVB World Tour for 13 seasons (1989-2000, 2002), where he competed in 41 events, had 10 final four appearances, and won four silvers and two bronze medals. He also played four seasons (1997-2000) on the United States domestic tour.

Q2: Goals for 2014?  How was the start of your season?

Esteban Grimalt: "Our goal is to play in as many FIVB World Tour events this year to earn points to improve our ranking. We started the season very well with great performances in the South American tour along with our fifth place finish in Mexico."

Marco Grimalt: "We started really well at the Puerto Vallarta Open. We are very excited for the next tournament. Our goals for this year is to actively participate in the FIVB World Tour and to make a good finish."

Q3: Olympic chances?

Esteban Grimalt: "We will participate in the Continental Cup. If we get more resources, we will try to participate in as many FIVB World Tour events as possible and eventually earn more points and improve our world ranking."

Marco Grimalt: "It's one of our goals. We're taking it step by step."

Q4: When, where, why and how did you become a beach volleyball player?

Esteban Grimalt: "I played in my first national tournament with Marco in 2007, because during that time, a team was missing to complete the draw. We got an invitation from the federation, so we started playing. In 2010. we left the indoor team and started playing fulltime on the beach."

Marco Grimalt: "I was inspired by my uncle Rodrigo Grimalt, who played with his brother Ricardo Grimalt to represent Chile in the very first FIVB World Tour event in Rio de Janeiro."

Q5:  When not practicing and playing, what do you do with your free time?

Esteban Grimalt: "I like being outdoors, being with my family and my girlfriend. I go to Linares, my home in the south of Chile, to spend some time in the farm and hang out with my friends." 

Q6: What has been your greatest experience and/or accomplishments in beach volleyball?

Esteban Grimalt: "There have been many good experiences for me, like visiting a lot of places and meeting a lot of people that now are part of my life."

Marco Grimalt: "This year, we've obtained excellent results on the South American tour. We earned a silver medal and reached many finals in the continental tour.  Placing fifth in Puerto Vallarta was very satisfying."

Q7: Any disappointments?

Esteban Grimalt: "The disappointments in losing, but with any defeat, you always learn something."

Marco Grimalt: "We take our defeats as part of our learning process. It's part of the game."

Q8: How does your team rank on the Chilean national tour?

Marco Grimalt: "We play on the Chile national tour during the summer (December-March). We have been No. 1 now for five straight years."

Q9: Do have professional career or occupation?

Esteban Grimalt: "I am an environmental engineering student trying to draw on parallel with sport."

Marco Grimalt: "I am studying security and risk prevention engineering at Andrés Bello University. They always support me and I'm am really grateful."

Q10: Any other interesting items about your beach volleyball career?  Do you have any beach volleyball heroes?

Esteban Grimalt: "Our career is just beginning. We hope to improve more to get to the World Tour. When I started, I admired players like Todd Rogers, Phil Dalhausser, and Ricardo Santos. Now, I have the chance to see them play, and even play against them. What makes the FIVB World Tour great is that you can always learn something from of each of these players."

Grimalt: "Beach volleyball in Chile is growing and our intention is to end our careers as an example to the players in our country to aim of reaching the top of the FIVB world ranking. Hopefully, Esteban and I will start something special for Chilean beach volleyball.


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