Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 19, 2016 - Brazil has always been a dominant force in beach volleyball at the Olympic Games. On Thursday night men’s pair Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt claimed a brilliant gold medal but it all started back in 1996 in Atlanta when Sandra Pires and Jackie Silva beat compatriots Mônica Rodrigues and Adriana Samuel to win the inaugural edition of the Olympic beach volleyball competition.
The Volleyball House welcomed Brazil’s first beach volleyball Olympic stars on Friday to mark the 20th anniversary of their success.
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In the 20 years and five Olympic Game since Atlanta 1996, Brazil has won a total of 15 Olympic beach volleyball medals. The sport has come a long way since the inaugural event, earning the title of signature event at Rio 2016 as the sport returned to its spiritual home on the iconic Copacabana.
Jackie, gold medallist from Atlanta 1996 with her playing partner Sandra, reflected on winning the first ever Olympic beach volleyball gold medal and believes in the time since, beach volleyball has become one of the best sports in the world.
“It’s unbelievable, the sport has grown fast, I’m really glad that I was with it since the beginning. At that time we were just playing beach volleyball with a lot of passion and patience to try to make things right. We all knew it would be fantastic and it would become one of the best sports in the world,” Jackie said.
“It’s very nice to be gold medalist, it’s an accomplishment, especially when it’s something new and you don’t know if it’s going to take off. But you see the arena now and 12,000 people want to be there. It’s an easy sport to practice as you just need to go to the beach. It’s cheap and you’re outside at the beach. People think about beach volleyball as a sport where you have fun, go with your friends to the beach and this makes it easy for the sport to grow,” she added.
For Mônica, who won the silver medal at Atlanta 1996 with her playing partner Adriana, the match is still fresh in the memory.
“I keep in my mind 20 years ago and it’s great to be remembered. 20 years has passed and we’re still having this experience and experiencing the emotion,” Mônica said.