Hello from Rio de Janeiro
We left Brazilian city of Maceio on Saturday Feburary 27th and moved south to Rio de Janeiro where a first FIVB Grand Slam Tournament of the 2016 season takes place. Rio Grand Slam is viewed by many as a testing event before the Summer Olympic Games in August so the centre court is enormous and organization of the tournament is expected to be above standard. It is also the last career tournament of the legendary Brazilian beach volleyball player Emanuel Rego. Needless to say that we are definitely expecting this event to be a spectacle.
Brazilians love beach volleyball and volleyball in general – as players or as spectators. As fans they get very much into the game and can be quite emotional and passionate with occasional booing against non-Brazilian teams, which some could see a little bit unsportsmanlike. But we say: “Better to have fans who boo with passion occasionally then have no fans”.
Except for our first day in Rio, when it rained and the wind was quite strong, the weather has been ideal for training and tournament preparation (some wind, cloudy and humid but not extremely hot). But it seems as if the weekends are always sunny with blue skies and on those weekends beaches are filled with people and everybody is playing beachvolley, footvolley or beach tennis. We have been training from Monday-Friday with different teams from Germany, Spain, France, Finland and Greece either at Copacabana beach or at Ipanema beach. As a new team, we are still learning to play with each other and learning how to play together under the ‘game pressure’. We are training combinations and different variations of side-outs and defense. Sometimes the trainings are great and we feel like we do not need to train the specific aspect of the game anymore but then comes a time, when what has already been working stops working. So we go back to basics. Anyone who has ever done any sport in their lives probably knows what we are talking about.
After the winter break and technical preparation camp it is very important to get back quickly into the rhythm of the game. That usually takes a little while. It was very interesting to observe already in Maceio how different teams have different strategies to get back in this rhythm. Every team has approached the beginning of the season differently. Some teams are still taking the first few tournaments as a warm-up/pre-season giving themselves enough time to find the rhythm, other teams are taking the “pedal to the metal” approach, trying to make great results at the beginning of the season and collect points right away for the Olympic qualification. Then there are the South American teams (Brazil, Argentina etc.) who are on fire already because when we have a winter break in Europe, those teams are competing at their strong domestic beachvolleyball tours. And of course then there is us – Maki&Bára…. We do not have a top form yet nor the rhythm neither we have an Olympic qualification stress
Rio Grand Slam starts on Tuesday. We are currently seeded no 2. in Qualification rounds based on Entry points* but according to Technical seeding points** we will get eventually seeded little bit lower. This means that on Tuesday we will have to win two “do-or-die” matches to qualify into the Main Draw. The qualifications is going to be difficult, but that is just the way it is and every new team has to go through this process. So keep your fingers crossed!
“I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday”
~Maki & Bára~
*Entry Points determine if the team will go directly in the Main Draw or if it will have to play Qualification ( 6 best results from last 8 tournaments)
**Technical seeding points are all points collected at tournaments for the past 365 days