FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour

Rio Grand Slam 2016 | 8 - 13 mars 2016


Press release

Emanuel with the past, present and future Monday

Fulvio Danilas (left), the coordinator of Beach Volleyball for the CBV, and Franco Neto (right) with Brazilian players (from left to right) Eliza Maia, Eduarda “Duda” Lisboa, Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos at a Monday morning media conference in Rio.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 7, 2016 - An array of Brazilian beach volleyball royalty, past present and future, sat shoulder to shoulder.

Young female stars Eduarda “Duda” Lisboa and Elize Maia, gold medalist Ricardo Santos, 18-time champion Franco Neto sat facing the media but as the week kicked off leading into the $800,000 Rio Grand Slam, it was the man in the middle of all them who was the focal point.

Legendary Emanuel Rego, the only player to compete in beach volleyball in all five Olympic Games in which the sport has been contested, is playing for the last time on Copacabana Beach this week and the tributes will pour in for the 42-year-old.


Emanuel picked up the first of many tributes from longtime rival Franco, who said simply of the man to his right: “Emanuel is the best of all time.”

You can look at statistics all day long with Emanuel and come to the same conclusion. He was won 152 events in his career, an all-time record, better even than United States legend Karch Kiraly. He has captured FIVB or Association of Volleyball Professionals titles with seven different partners.

Three times, Emanuel has been a World Champion – with three different partners.

Emanuel could throw all of those numbers out there and come to the conclusion that yes, maybe he should be considered the best ever. Yet that is not how he looks at his career and at the sport that has blossomed into one of the most popular in the world.


“In my mind, I consider (myself) the player who tries everything to be on the top all the time,” Emanuel said at a media conference just steps away from the courts where he will cheered in the coming days. “When you do this, logically your numbers just say what you did in these 25 years. My main goal was I wanted to do my best every time to be on the top, to be a good example as an athlete.

Emanuel Rego

“It still is true for this week, to do it the same way, to think about the volleyball and try to treat our sport as the best one.”

When he first tried the sport, Emanuel was not sure exactly how his volleyball career would unfold. He was still playing indoor volleyball in Curitiba while heading to the beach on the weekends to play on the sand just for fun.


In 1991, USA legends Sinjin Smith and Randy Stoklos, who had helped Brazil develop a love for the sport when they barnstormed through Brazil in the 1980s, arrived in Rio for a tournament.

Between matches, Smith and Stoklos had some training time and were talked into playing against a 17-year-old youngster. Smith and Stoklos had no idea what they were in for.

“They kept asking me and Randy to play against this kid,” Smith recalls. “We just got here, we wanted to kind of get into the flow of things and they were saying, ‘Come on, come on.’

So we start to play against him and this other guy and again, this is a kid, we’re thinking this will be our warm-up. He comes out and he plays like a World Tour guy. He’s never played on the World Tour. Well, there wasn’t a World Tour, just a couple of events at the time, and we’re going ‘Oh, no. We can’t lose, we’re the world champions, we’re the kings of Rio and all of this’ and here’s this kid from Brazil who’s going to take us down in our warm-up match.

“We had to do everything in our power to stay with him and win that game. He’s 17 years old and hadn’t come on to the scene yet. All the Brazilians were laughing, ‘Go ahead, play with this kid.’ ”

Emanuel remembers the moment vividly.

“I remember it was 11-9 for me and my partner and at that time, we were very skinny and we were playing very fast and then it was 11-11,” Emanuel said. “Then their coach said ‘Come on, Randy, Sinjin, it’s time, let’s go.’ Then Randy went to serve and made four aces very fast, one on the line, one on the other line, one in the middle and the game was finished, 15-11, shaking hands and bye-bye.

“For me it was a good experience to watch them and the way they treated the game.”

While Smith and Stoklos might admit to being a little flustered at the thought of being taken down by a local kid, Emanuel thought otherwise.

“They controlled the game the whole time,” Emanuel said. “It was fun for us because we felt that ‘Ah, we have an opportunity to win.’ but I think it was just the opposite, they just let us be happy for a few moments.”


It changed Emanuel, who decided pretty much then and there his future was in beach volleyball. He eventually traveled to the United States to play on the AVP Tour.

“I changed my life to be in AVP to try and understand how they play,” Emanuel said. “I can say Randy Stoklos, Sinjin Smith, Karch Kiraly, Brian Lewis, Kent Steffes - those guys showed me a different way to play beach volleyball.

“They were very experienced. That’s how I learned to play, to be a professional. So these guys, they showed me the world, they opened my mind to stay there as a professional.”


And a wildly successful career was born. Smith, who began his beach career largely with Kiraly, now looks back and has one thing to say about Emanuel: “He’s the best that’s ever been.”

Sinjin Smith

“He’s the most accomplished, and that has to play in to your ability as well,” Smith continued. “I could say I was better than he, but what does that mean? He was to some people, maybe not to others, maybe he was a better a digger but not as good a hitter, you know, those types of (arguments).

“Accomplishment-wise, what he did in his career is unmatched, unparalleled. His success against the best teams from all over the world over all the years with different partners as well; his statistics jump right out at you, and you don’t realize how long he’s been playing, how good he was.”

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