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Will this be Emanuel’s last match?

Will Emanuel Rego dive for his last Mikasa Thursday evening against Russia?
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 10, 2016 - With a majority of the focus at this week’s $800,000 Rio Grand Slam being on the best beach volleyball players in the world chasing their “Olympic dreams” of qualifying for the Rio 2016 Summer Games, the No. 1 sidebar is the play of legendary Brazilian Emanuel Rego with his partner long-time partner Ricardo Santos.

Late last week, Emanuel announced his retirement as a player on the FIVB World Tour and greeted the media for the first time here Monday morning to discuss his plans for the future and his prospects of competing with Ricardo for one last time on Copacabana where he started his international career in 1994 with Aloizio Claudino.


Seeded 18th in the FIVB World Tour event on iconic Copacabana, Emanuel and Ricardo are now 1-1 in the pool play portion of the men’s competition after posting a 2-0 (21-19, 22-20) Pool B win in 42 minutes over second-seeded Reinder Nummerdor and Christiaan Varenhorst of the Netherlands here Thursday morning.

Despite the victory after losing Wednesday afternoon to 15th-seeded Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel of Poland 2-1(21-14, 19-21, 15-12) 57 minutes, Emanuel and Ricardo need a win over 31st-seeded qualifiers Dmitri Barsouk/Nikita Liamin of Russia to ensure a spot in Friday’s elimination rounds.


If Emanuel and Ricardo lose to the Russians, then overall point ratio will be used as the tie-breaker inside of head-to-head competition. Entering the final match, Emanuel and Ricardo have a 0.957 point ratio (90 points scored, 94 points allowed) to the Barsouk and Liamin’s 0.860 (86-100).

“I know if that match against the Russians is my last, I know that I probably lost to a better team,” said Emanuel, who will celebrate his 43rd birthday next month (April 15).  “Disappointment yes, but at least I know I gave it my all and was competing to the last point. You never expect to lose and you always play to win.”


With the Rio Grand Slam being Emanuel’s 257th FIVB World Tour event, the Brazilian’s match against the Russians will be No. 1,548 internationally. Thursday’s morning’s victory over the Dutch with Ricardo was win No. 1,226 to give Emanuel a 79.3 winning percentage for matches played on the FIVB World Tour since 1994.

The Russian match will also be No. 600 for the Brazilian pair at FIVB events. Emanuel and Ricardo, who have 33 FIVB World Tour gold medals to their credit, have posted 479 wins for an 80.0 winning percentage. The Brazilians captured the gold medal at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and topped the podium on Copacabana at the 2003 FIVB World Championships. Emanuel and Ricardo also won the 2007 Pan American Games gold medal on Copacabana.


As for Thursday’s win over the Dutch, Emanuel said it was his team’s best win since reforming their partnership at the end of the 2014 season. In their first tournament back together for a late September FIVB stop in São Paulo, Emanuel and Ricardo lost a two-set gold medal match to Nummerdor and Varenhorst.

“I played a lot better today,” said Emanuel, who has played in five Olympic Games with four different partners with three medals to his credit. “I did not play well yesterday. All the teams in our pool are very competitive, so each one of these matches are tough. Barsouk is a veteran on the beach playing with an up-and-coming player. It is a big match for both teams as we are both seeking to advance to Friday’s rounds.”

While the focus this week at the Rio Grand Slam is on August’s Olympics, the hearts of many Brazilians and the international beach volleyball community will be with Emanuel as he tries to live for another day on Copacabana. If it does not happen, Emanuel knows that he gave his best to the end.


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