2017-11-29 10:00:00 CET
Pedro - A man of his choices
No player in the world of beach volleyball has changed partners more than Pedro Solberg. The Brazilian serial teammate swapper reveals the reasons behind his reputation.
The life of a beach volleyball player is made of endless choices. And Brazilian Pedro Solberg is not shy of making his own. At the age of 31, the youngest athlete to win the World Tour has probably had more partners in his career than any other player competing in the sands of the world.
A regular competitor in the World Tour since 2005, Pedro has already had 13 different partners in the international scene. Add to the list a handful of teammates with who he competed only in the Brazilian Tour (including George Wanderley, his partner for the 2018 season) and the number of players who he shared the court with easily exceeds 20.
“I have never had the same partner for more than two years,” Pedro explains. “I had success with Harley, who was my partner in three different seasons, and with Bruno, with who I played for only one year, so I think that results are not connected to the duration of the partnership. But of course I understand that being able to have the same partner for a long time and really building a successful team is something really special. That’s what I wanted for my career, but, for a number of reasons, it never happened.”
The list of players with whom Pedro has partnered in the past is extensive and distinct. It includes legends of Brazilian beach volleyball such as his idol Jose Loiola, Ricardo Santos and Emanuel Rego; goes through world champions as Bruno Schmidt, Marcio Araujo and Evandro Goncalves and also features promising young players as Under-21 world champions Guto Carvalhaes and now Wanderley.
The Rio 2016 Olympian firmly believes he learned from each of these experiences.
“I love getting to know and exchanging experiences with different people,” Pedro acknowledges. “That’s something really natural and fun to me, so I am grateful that I had the opportunity to share the court with players who were 12, 15 years older than I was at the time and that my current partner is 10 years younger. It is an amazing experience, not only in my career, but in my life, and I’m truly comfortable with that.”
But the several partner changes Pedro made in his career were not motivated by the pursuit of new experiences. With so many tempting options available in the talented Brazilian pool of players, he is always looking for the best fit to his game.
“When it was my decision to end the partnership I was in, I can tell that probably 90 per cent of the times was because I saw more promising opportunities with another partner,” he admits. “Recently, I’ve split with a partner because he failed to keep his side of our agreement. And there was also a case when I didn’t admire my partner and his way to see the world at all and it was impossible for me keep the team together. Most of the times I was looking for better results though.”
And after so many different experiences, what he considers the recipe for a strong relationship between partners?
“To me, the team spirit comes from the commons goal,” Pedro believes. “I always looked for partners that had the same objectives I had at the time and I believe that’s where a partnership really starts.”
The answer reflects the maturity Pedro developed over the years. This same feeling makes him look back and regret some decisions he has made in the past, such as prematurely ending partnerships.
“There are two situations where I think I was too immature and ended my partnerships prematurely,” he recalls. “The first was when I played with Harley in 2008 and decided to pair with Pedro Cunha. We had had two solid seasons and I should have believed more in our team.
“The other was in 2010, when I was playing with Ricardo, one of the best of all time to me, and I decided to rejoin Harley. I had so much to learn from him, but just didn’t have the patience to wait for the results to come. I was very young and wanted things to happen faster than I should.”
If the players on his side come and go, Pedro found a reliable partner outside the courts in his coach Renato França. The trainer, who is married to Olympian Talita Antunes, has been part of Pedro’s life since his teenager years, having coached him for the past 16 years. He is arguably the real teammate Pedro has had in his career.
“He’s much more than my coach,” Pedro explains. “He’s my brother, a big friend. He was always there when I needed, even when it was not about beach volleyball. I am grateful for his friendship but also for the work we’ve been doing together for all these years. He’s one of the best coaches in the world, I learn a lot from him and I hope our partnership keeps going for a while because I really enjoy spending my time with him.”
185 Likes, 16 Comments - Pedro Solberg (@pedro.solberg_) on Instagram: "São 18 anos de amizade e 16 de trabalho. Obrigado, Renato França, TMJ!!!!"
Pedro thanks his coach Renato França on Instagram.