FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour

Rio Grand Slam 2016 | 8 - 13 mars 2016


Press release

Hometown distractions

No hometown distractions for Brazilians Agatha Bednarczuk (left) and Barbara Seixas in winning Pool A Thursday on Copacabana.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 10, 2016 - In their hometown, distractions are everywhere. They can try to avoid them all they want, but Barbara Seixas and Agatha Bednarczuk can’t go too far or too long without someone or something getting in their way.

Quick links
•    Rio Grand Slam website
•    Country quota results - Men
•    Country quota results - Women
•    Qualification - Men
•    Qualification - Women

•    Main draw - Men
•    Main draw - Women

That can be a tough deal when you know that your country, one with the transparent and unending passion of Brazil, is holding onto a part of the dream the athletes share.

So at home on Copacabana Beach, on the site where the Rio 2016 Olympic gold medals will be earned, Barbara and Agatha put their toes in the sand and understand the pressure that will be on their shoulders when they represent their nation on the largest of worldwide stages.

Pressure? What pressure?

“For me, I transform the pressure to energy because if you think this is pressure, it’s not good,” Agatha said, smiling and enjoying every minute of the $800,000 Rio Grand Slam. “For me, I imagine the people are here to give me energy and I play better each point.

“Now we have our family here, we have our friends. The people are here to transmit the energy for us and we feel the energy each game, so we are very happy to play here.”

A year ago, Barbara and Agatha did what their federation told them to do - win the World Cup and earn one of the two Olympic spots allotted to the country.

Barbara and Agatha
Mikasa headed for the middle of Brazil's Agata Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas

That meant they would enter 2016 knowing that they and teammates Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca would be Brazil’s entries. It also meant that they would have to devise a way to not let that take some steam out of their motivation for the FIVB World Tour leading up to the Games in August.

What direction would their thoughts take them? While they had their tickets to the Olympics, just about every team they would face this year would be fighting to the last grain of sand to earn their way to Rio.

“We think a lot about the Olympics, but we know we cannot be anxious about it because we still have a lot of tournaments to play,” Barbara said. “It’s a short period until August, but it’s always long because we have a lot of tournaments yet. It’s good to think and create positive energy and thoughts and imagine how it’s going to be - the venue and the crowd and the energy.

“For me it’s not (a distraction). For some athletes, they don’t like to think a lot because it makes them nervous or anxious but for me, I really try to create an image of a positive scenario for me.”

That vision is getting its first test this week and for the top seeds, nothing could be more clear. In their three pool-play matches, they didn’t drop a set and outscored their opponents by an average of more than 5 1/ 2 points per set.

Family? Friends? Distractions? Bring it on. If they can handle it now, it will be that much easier in the summer.

During the off-season, at least they had enough time to map out the year the best they could. They knew the world would be taking aim at them, but they wanted to make sure their path progressed from a foundation to its peak by August.

And just like the event organizers, Rio would not only be a competition to capture another World Tour gold medal, it would be a run-through of what they want to approach the Olympics.

“We are (staying) in one place that we probably will stay in August,” Agatha said. “We have all of our commission here - normally we have 11, 12 people that work with us. For travel, we have only four or five persons so here we can have all the people of our commission and we have our friends, we have our family and they will be here. So we have many things like it will be in August.”

Two weeks ago as their season opened, there might have been some eyebrows raised when they lost in the semifinals of the Maceio Open. Was this going to be a season of underperforming because that Olympic spot was already clinched?

Oh yes, they have an answer for that,

“I think it gives us more motivation because we give more time to make a preseason and really to programme ourselves to the Olympic Games,” Barbara said. “We know that from here until August, we know we are not going to be like 100 per cent.

“The intention is to be 100 per cent at the Olympic Games. For us it’s better because normally our year is really full - you have to play all the World Tour and the nationals here.”

Their plan is on the table. They figure they’ll let all the other teams experience their own pressure.

“It’s just like I thought - my family here and Agatha’s family also, and they are from the south they came just to see us playing so this is very special for us,” Barbara said. “We also have a fan club so some girls could come here. They are from the northeast, so it’s far. This just makes us happier and more motivated to play and we give our best.”

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