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2017-11-26 10:00:00 CET

Spirit of the Beach: Alison/Bruno

When friendship wins tournaments

What does it take to form a team?

Long-time friends, Alison and Bruno enjoy success together despite their differences

 

Imagine that you’re a beach volleyball player and you have won each of the most important tournaments in the world in the last few years. It sounds good, right? Now add to it the fact that you did that having one of your best friends on your side in the court. Now it couldn’t get any better, correct?

Well, that’s exactly what Brazilians Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt have been doing over the past few years. Long-time friends, the Olympic champions have dominated the international beach scene over the last three years, winning the FIVB World Tour and the World Championships in 2015, back-to-back World Tour Finals titles in 2015 and 2016 and, of course, the unforgettable gold medal at their home Olympics in Rio in 2016.

“We’ve know each other for over a decade, since we started our careers,” Alison, nicknamed the Mammoth for his intimidating frame, recalls. “Our friendship definitely helps our team a lot even though we do a very good job on keeping it separate from our professional relationship. We literally speak the same language and we know how and when to praise or to push each other. We have the same goals and the same values and that makes things a lot easier.”

Put it there, partner!Put it there, partner!

Alison and Bruno’s friendship started in 2005, when both – teenagers at the time – lived in the same city, Vitória, and decided to join forces to compete in some stops of the Brazilian Tour. Being together in a moment of their careers when frustrations were far more usual than reasons to celebrate helped to build their relationship.

After eight years, both were more experienced having played with other Brazilians on the World Tour. Alison had shared the court with such luminaries as Harley Marques and Emanuel Rego, while Bruno had teamed with Fabio Luiz Magalhes, Benjamin Insfran and Pedro Solberg. It was then, in 2014, when they decided to get together again and started the current run.

“We played together in 2005 and 2006 and we followed different paths after that,” Alison, who turns 32 in December, explains. “I moved to Rio de Janeiro and lived there for seven years, but when I came back to Vitória, in 2013, I was adamant that I wanted to play with Bruno again.

“It was very important that we had played together in the beginning of our careers, but it was also vital that we gained a lot of experience playing with different partners before we reunited again.”

When the pair reunited again, things at first didn’t go according to plan – and that was when their friendship and trust on each other played an important role again. Even when the team was struggling for results, or when Alison was sidelined due to a knee injury, they never stopped believing in the success they could have together.

Alison (left) and Bruno secured a second World Tour Final title with victory in Toronto in 2016Alison (left) and Bruno secured a second World Tour Final title with victory in Toronto in 2016

“When people talk about us, they usually think about 2016 as it was our most successful season,” says the Mammoth. “But 2014 was a very important year as we learned a lot, we saw how we needed to believe in our work and started building the team we are now. It helped us to get good results in 2015 and to know how to deal with the pressure in 2016.”

But don’t think that just because they know each other for a while and their partnership is successful that Alison and Bruno don’t have their differences.

With opposite personalities and lifestyles, they are very serious about respecting each other’s space and making sure every decision they make is focused on what’s best for the team.

“We are very different in our life styles,” Alison acknowledges. “And that works very well because we respect each other a lot and I feel that we complement each other, both as friends and as partners. After four years, we know how to deal with our differences and, despite our different personalities; we make sure our goals are always aligned. It has been like this the same since we first played together.”

And if it’s not broken, don’t fix it, right?

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