Alison back to the Beach Pro Tour in Itapema
The Rio Olympic champion will be on the qualifier with new partner Oscar Guimarães
Pubblicato 10:10, 03 Apr 2023
A Rio 2016 Olympic champion, Alison last played internationally at last year’s FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship, which was held in June, and skipped the last ten months of international competition before returning to the sand this week in Itapema.
A two-time world champion (2011, 2015), three-time Olympian and two Olympic medallists (he also won silver in London 2012), Alison is one of the most successful active players, having won as many as 28 gold medals in his 17-year international career.
At the Itapema Challenge, which will run from Thursday to Sunday at the Meia Praia Beach, the ‘Mammoth’ will also play international beach volleyball at home for the first time in a year.
“I’m very happy to be back on the Beach Pro Tour and looking forward to playing in front of the Brazilian fans again,” the Olympic champion told Volleyball World. “Itapema has welcomed beach volleyball in a great way over the last few years and I can’t wait to compete there and represent Brazil again.”
Alison has had three different partners (Andre Loyola, Álvaro Filho and Gustavo ‘Guto’ Carvalhaes) since his successful partnership with fellow Olympic champion Bruno Schmidt came to an end in 2018 and he’ll get on the court in Itapema with a new teammate in Oscar Guimarães.
The 37-year-old defender has a long domestic career in Brazil and has also won a pair of FIVB World Tour medals in 2016 and 2018. A Rio de Janeiro native, Oscar had a single appearance at the Beach Pro Tour, in last year’s Itapema Challenge, where he didn’t advance out of the qualifier.
The two won a Brazilian Tour event in a temporary union back in 2019 and were fourth and fifth in the two Brazilian Tour events they played ahead of the Itapema Challenge.
“We played an event together back in 2019 and managed to win it and just made it to the semifinals in our first tournament in 2023,” Alison commented. “I think his game is a great fit with mine and we have good experience and a great relationship on and off the court, which helps a lot. We’ve been communicating very well and have the same goals and beliefs too. The biggest thing now for us is being consistent and having steady progress.”
Because of Oscar’s limited presence in international events lately, the Brazilians will start the Itapema Challenge in the qualifier and will have a big mountain to climb, starting the 32-team men’s qualifier ranked 20th.
It will be somewhat of a new situation for Alison, who, outside of a single match at the Rosarito Elite16 last year, hadn’t had to play in a qualifier since May 2019.
“Starting on the qualifier is not a problem for me,” the blocker remarked. “That’s where I started my international career some years ago and I managed to get as far as I did. The level of the qualifier is very high right now and we’re ready for some big battles. To succeed in the qualifier, you need to be humble, have a lot of determination and focus and even some luck. We’ll try and be ready to take advantage of the opportunities that we have and overcome the challenges we’ll face.”
Alison and Oscar are only entered for the Itapema and the Saquarema Challenge events so far, besides three Brazilian Tour tournaments, and they’ll wait for the outcome of their first events as partners to decide how active they will be at the international level this season.
“I’m living for the moment right now,” Alison explained. “Oscar and I are really going one step at a time and our first block of tournaments includes three Brazilian Tour and two Beach Pro Tour (Itapema and Saquarema) events. Attempting to qualify for Paris requires a lot of sacrifices and both of us have young kids and a family now, so we’re really not setting long-term goals or committing to it. We’ll see how we do in these two events and then decide what to do next.”