2018-05-28 21:17:00 CEST
The legendary blocker will team up with the young defender to compete in the summer tournaments
The realignment that affected all Brazilian men’s top teams over the last week will bring a beach volleyball legend back to the World Tour as 2004 Olympic champion Ricardo Santos is set to resume his international career as the new partner of up-and-coming defender Guto Carvalhaes.
Guto, the winner of last year’s Poreč Major, was left without a partner after Vitor Felipe decided to pair with Evandro Goncalves, who saw his partnership with Andre Loyola come to an end after 16 successful months that saw the pair crowned World Champions.
The 24-year-old defender then approached Ricardo, a World Tour veteran with 56 gold medals and 230 tournaments under his belt who was recently limited to competing in the Brazilian and American Tours, with a tempting offer.
“After all those changes there weren’t many blockers available and Ricardo was the first name that crossed my mind,” Guto told beachmajorseries.com. “He hasn’t played much internationally in the last couple of years, but I saw him in action in the Brazilian and South American Tours recently and he’s still a blocking machine. I’m confident that we can be a very competitive team as we’ll also have all his experience to help us.”
1,289 Likes, 97 Comments - Guto Carvalhaes (@gutocarvalhaes) on Instagram: "💪👊🏐 🇧🇷"
Guto’s invitation will bring Ricardo back to the World Tour after a 2017 season when he was limited to just one tournament, the Fort Lauderdale Major, where he played with Harley Marques. In 2018, his only international appearance so far was in the four-star event in Huntington Beach earlier this month, when he had Oscar Guimaraes by his side.
The 43-year-old blocker, who lives in Orlando, in the USA, since 2016, is one of the most decorated beach volleyball players of all time, with three Olympic medals (gold in Athens 2004, silver in Sydney 2000 and bronze in Beijing 2008), a World Championship victory in 2013 and six World Tour titles.
“I’m extremely motivated by this challenge,” Ricardo said. “Competing regularly in the World Tour wasn’t part of my plans anymore, but this was an opportunity too good for me to pass and Guto’s invitation touched me. It won’t be easy as I had changed my entire life to focus more on my family and on my projects in the United States and now I’ll be away for a while.
“But I always felt great on the World Tour and the chance to be back with a great partner was way too appealing. It has been a few years since I last played several tournaments, but I’ve been there for most of my career and I know what it takes to succeed.”
The two of them have trained together in Florida last December, when Guto was on vacation. The new team could be reunited as soon as next week as the defender will head to Orlando again to spend some weeks training with Ricardo before the team’s debut, which is expected to happen in the four-star event in Warsaw, Poland, at the end of June.
Hoje tivemos a visita do técnico do @gutocarvalhaes e @vitorfelipe00 . @iagohercowitz ministrou o treinamento do dia . #treino #beachvolleyball #voleidepraia #otva #orlando
638 Likes, 9 Comments - Ricardo Santos (@ricardobeach1) on Instagram: "Hoje tivemos a visita do técnico do @gutocarvalhaes e @vitorfelipe00 . @iagohercowitz ministrou o..."
The partnership was stablished with a short-term focus and the immediate goal is to do well in the upcoming tournaments in the summer. After that, anything could happen, including an unexpected run for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“We can be very strong together,” Ricardo highlighted. “To me, Guto is the best defender in the World Tour right now, a difference-maker, and I’m confident we’ll have a very natural fit together. We’ll have some weeks to prepare and our goal is to start the team on the right foot. We’re not thinking about the Olympics now, but if the results happen and they ignite us as a team, who knows?”
Welcome back, champ!