2019-01-02 09:00:00 CEST

Five veterans to watch next season

You might have already wondered when these players would retire – it’s not going to be in 2019!

Brazilian legend Ricardo Santos will turn 44 on January 6Brazilian legend Ricardo Santos will turn 44 on January 6

Beach volleyball is widely known as a sport where athletes can remain active at an older age and some World Tour regulars seem to take it seriously. Every year, athletes in their 40s or high 30s are asked the same question: “When are you retiring?”. While they don’t have an answer for it, we remain enjoying all they do for the sport.

Here are some players you may think would not be competing in 2019 – but they will be there.

Ricardo Santos

The Athens 2004 Olympic champion, who will turn 44 in the first days of 2019, seemed to be done competing internationally after he took part in just one World Tour event in 2017, but he was brought back by Guto Carvalhaes halfway through the 2018 season and the duo won a silver medal at the four-star event in Espinho. The Brazilians have split at the end of the season, but Ricardo, who made his World Tour debut in 1995, will be back in 2019 with Álvaro Filho, his partner in the World Championships second-place finish in 2013, to add some tournaments to his 236 – the second most in the Tour.

The Brazilian Olympic champion brought his energy back to the Tour in 2018The Brazilian Olympic champion brought his energy back to the Tour in 2018

Kerri Walsh Jennings

The three-time Olympic and world champion struggled with injuries and missed some important tournaments between 2017 and 2018, when she partnered with Nicole Branagh. The 40-year-old, who has been a force om the World Tour since 2001, is far from done and she has just started another Olympic run with her recently-announced partner Brooke Sweat. The Americans ended the season with a bronze medal at the three-star tournament in Chetumal, just their second time playing together, and are looking for more progress in 2019.

Walsh Jennings is just begun a new partnership with Brooke SweatWalsh Jennings is just begun a new partnership with Brooke Sweat

Clemens Doppler

The legendary Austrian blocker has been a staple in the World Tour since 1998, when he first competed internationally. The 38-year-old is ready to start his 21st World Tour season in 2019 and the eighth with his long-time partner Alexander Horst. The Europeans are hopeful they can regain their 2017 form, which took them all the way to win a silver medal at the World Championships in their home sand of Vienna, as they try to qualify to their fourth-straight Olympic Games.

Doppler is aiming for a fourth-straight Olympic appearanceDoppler is aiming for a fourth-straight Olympic appearance

Riikka Lehtonen

Despite of been 39, Lehtonen is about to start just her sixth full-time World Tour season. The veteran is arguably the most successful volleyball player Finland has ever had and she didn’t transition to the beach until 2014, after concluding a stellar indoor career in seven different countries. The defender has had seven different partners on the sand and will start her second season with 21-year-old Niina Ahtiainen in 2019.

An accomplished indoor player, Lehtonen had a late start in beach volleyball (Photocredit: FIVB)An accomplished indoor player, Lehtonen had a late start in beach volleyball (Photocredit: FIVB)

John Hyden

The American defender is probably the oldest player to be part of the beach volleyball elite at the age of 46. A two-time volleyball Olympian, Hyden started his beach career in 2001 and hasn’t showed any signs of slowing down after 17 years. After playing with Theo Brunner in 2018, the veteran is set to return to his 2017 partner, Ryan Doherty, with who he finished fourth at that year’s Fort Lauderdale Major.

At 46, Hyden will pair with the towering Ryan Doherty in 2019At 46, Hyden will pair with the towering Ryan Doherty in 2019

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