Agatha, 37, will be in tandem with 22-year-old Eduarda ‘Duda’ Santos Lisboa in pursuit of Olympic glory. Her partner since the start of 2017, she is someone with whom she has shared many success moments.
They are currently third in the provisional FIVB Olympic Rankings and so long as they are sufficiently well ranked by the time the Olympic qualification period ends in June 2021, the Brazil Volleyball Federation (CBV) has said they will be one of the Brazilian female pairs that will compete at Tokyo 2020.
Furthermore, they quickly rediscovered their form after the return to action this year, firstly by winning the King of the Court title in Utrecht in the Netherlands, and then by securing a run of three golds on the Brazil Beach Volleyball Tour.
“We came here determined to win it this time and it is marvellous that we did,” Agatha said in Utrecht. “It is our first time playing since March and while some of the other teams were back competing on their national tours a few weeks ago, we were still working out at home in different cities.
“I think we enjoyed our time at home a little bit, but nothing beats being on the court.”
After teaming up at the beginning of the 2017 season, the pair did not hang around waiting before they won their first World Tour medal when they finished with silver from the Fort Lauderdale 4-Star in their first tournament together.
By the end of their first year in tandem they had sent their home fans into raptures by winning their first World Tour gold at the Rio de Janeiro 4-Star, three bronze medals and silver at the Hamburg 2017 FIVB World Tour Finals.
In 2018 they won gold, silver, and bronze on the Tour before rounding off the year with victory at the World Tour Finals. Then in 2019 they won two gold and two bronze but had to settle for silver at the World Tour Finals in Rome.
Despite the disappointment of missing out on another title, their success has vindicated the decision to pair Agatha with the then 18-year-old Duda, a gold medallist from the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games and four Age Category FIVB World Championships.
“It’s like having a young sister,” Agatha said during their first season. “She has great potential as an athlete and when we finish this cycle, she will be a different Duda.
“The age difference is cool – she brings the youth and personality and I come with experience. It’s a pretty cool mix.”
Agatha made her World Tour debut in 2005 alongside Atlanta 1996 Olympic champion Sandra Pires and until 2012 she moved around partners until joining up with Barbara Seixas in 2012.
Agatha and Barbara won silver at the Bangsaen Open in Thailand, but at the end of the year Agatha had another partner, double Olympian Maria Antonelli.
They won a silver and bronze, before Agatha and Barbara reunified and began the best run of their careers.
Top of the world
A series of medals showed their potential, and then in 2015 they put themselves among the best by winning gold at the Netherlands 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships.
That success put them among the medal favourites when they travelled to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games, and while Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst stopped them becoming the first Brazilian women to win Olympic gold since Atlanta 1996, it was a memorable way to mark the end of their partnership.
“I decided very young that I would be a professional volleyball player,” Agatha said. “As the dream was so big, I had lots of obstacles to overcome. When people ask me for advice, I always say that you have to have love, love what you do, because that is how I got it.
“I had good years, when I appeared on the scene, but others not so much. Good seasons on the national circuit and not so good on the international. But everything changed in 2012 and I have been able to maintain my form and improve with each passing year.”
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