2017-12-15 11:48:00 CET
Youngest World Champ going for more glory
Watch out world! The youngest ever men’s World Champion is eyeing more success in 2018.
It’s fair to say Andre Loyola Stein enjoyed 2017: together with new partner, Evandro Gonçalves Oliveira Junior, the 23-year-old clinched World Championship gold in Vienna – and he will finish the calendar year on top of beach volleyball’s world rankings.
After a historic first year together the plan for next season is simple – keep winning!
“Our plan for 2018 is that we remain on top of the world rankings,” the young Brazilian tells us. “We know that keeping our spot is harder than getting there, especially because every team in the world will be better prepared next year.”
Understandably, his victory in Vienna ranks at the very top of his achievements in the past 12 months. After all, it’s not often you make history by becoming the youngest World Champion in a sport – especially in beach volleyball where some of the game’s big names can be 10-plus years older than him. Indeed, Andre and Evandro lost to American golden oldies Nick Lucena, 38, and 37-year-old Phil Dalhausser in the final of the World Tour Finals in Hamburg.
Despite ending the season on a high with gold in Vienna and silver in Hamburg, Stein admits the season wasn’t all smiles.
“The toughest moment I think was the Gstaad Major, we finished fourth,” he says. “We considered that a good result, but the entire tournament was nerve-racking for us because we knew we needed to do well to climb the rankings since we had struggled in the tournaments before.
“We were on the road for a while too and at that moment the lack of results made us question some things and feel the pressure a little bit.”
After narrowly missing out on a bronze medal in the Major in the Swiss Alps, Andre and Evandro were a shock pool play exit from the Olsztyn four-star tournament in the run-up to the World Championships.
Having lost to two highly-rated young teams in the shape of Austria’s Martin Ermacora and Moritz Pristauz and Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Artem Yarzutkin of Russia in Poland, nobody expected the pair to dominate the Danube Island quite like they did.
“The best moment of the year was the World Championships, for sure,” says Andre with a smile. “Winning that tournament against the home team [Austria’s Clemens Doppler and Alex Horst] in front of their fans was something we only accomplished because we overcame our limits.
“Coming back in the first set and winning in front of 10,000 fans was unbelievable. I was told right after the game that I was the youngest world champion ever, so that tournament was the highest point of the season to me.
“It was our best tournament of the year. We lost in pool play against Mexico, but it was our most consistent tournament in the entire year. We were focused and our game was always well-balanced. Even when we were behind, we had a good attitude, always believing that we could turn things around. We got better as the tournament progressed and we are sharp technically and mentally and it was the good balance between these factors that led us to the gold medal.”
Now all eyes will be on Brazilian duo in 2018 as they aim to continue from where they left off following their explosive end-of-season form.
And 6ft 7in defender Andre is well aware that the pair will be the one team everyone wants to be beat next season.
“I think we’ll have more teams competing for the gold medals,” says the Vila Velha native. “Brazil has several great teams and it’s always a war between us for the best spots.
“The Olympic race will start soon as well and the level will only get better. Our challenge is to keep the good results and develop our team even more, on and off the court.”
You can relive Andre and Evandro’s stunning World Championship comeback against Doppler/Horst on BeachStream. Click here to watch the final in full.
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