Nicolai (left) and Lupo inspect their Olympic silver medals
Rome, Italy, September 7, 2016 – Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai may have been feted across Italy since they returned home from the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games with the beach volleyball silver medals round their necks, but they are determined to keep their feet on the ground to ensure they have plenty more medals to add to their collections in the future.
Lupo and Nicola’s run to the gold medal match captured Italy’s imagination and provided essential viewing for Italy’s beach volleyball fans, most notably in Nicolai’s home town of Ortona on Italy’s east coast, where a big screen was set up to follow their local hero’s progress.
“I’m living a moment after feeling emotions that I didn’t think I’d ever achieve,” Nicolai told Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport. “It is a great thing to have achieved, but I have to remind myself that many others have done it as well so as to not let it go to my head.
“Our silver can serve as a starting point. We gave our all and we need to continue to do that to keep winning. Our team’s success is the fruit of work over a number of years and the results that we’ve enjoyed.”
The duo began Rio 2016 in inauspicious fashion by losing their first two matches. They stayed in contention by defeating Tunisia’s Mohamed Naceur and Choaib Salah in their final pool match and then made it through the luck loser round.
From then on they found their form and used the combination of Lupo’s agility at the back of the court and Nicolai’s power at the net to march on to the gold medal match.
They were unable to overcome reigning world champions and number one seeds Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt though, who won Brazil’s first beach volleyball gold since 20014 in front of a vociferous centre court crowd.
“After the final group match against the Tunisians at the team meeting, I understood we were on the right path,” Nicolai said. “Our reaction, our attention was improved and we took it straight into the lucky loser round.
“Our step up in quality is all down to him (Lupo) and the staff that prepared us. The work we did allowed us to reach our highest technical level and that made everything automatic and that allows you to think clearly during hard times in matches.”