Alison ready to roar at Tokyo 2020

Alison Cerutti has stood tall over men’s beach volleyball for the past 10 years

A few months into the 2010s, Brazilian blocker Alison Cerutti won his first FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships gold, and he ends the decade as reigning Olympic champion. 

The 35-year-old has been paired with Alvaro Filho since April 2019 and the team have not hung around to make their mark on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, while they have their sights set firmly on Tokyo 2020. 

They are in fourth place in the provisional FIVB Olympic Rankings and know that unless things change drastically they will compete at Shiokaze Park after the Brazil Volleyball Federation (CBV) announced they would be one of Brazil’s two pairs for Tokyo 2020. 

It will be Alison’s third Olympic Games with his third partner where he will be chasing a third Olympic medal. 

Brazil's Alison Cerutti (left) and Alvaro Filho

“When Alvaro and I joined forces, there was some fear that maybe we wouldn’t qualify, but once we started to know each other better and to progress as a team, this fear started to dissipate,” Alison told Volleyball World after the announcement. 

“We knew we had no room for mistakes, our motivation was sky-high from the start, but at times it was tough for us to deal with the limitations a new team would obviously have. We knew what we had to do, we continued working and remained confident. 

“It wasn’t easy, but we’ve found a way to make it work and we’re enjoying it. Our first goal was to secure an Olympic spot and now we want to do everything we can to play at our best in Tokyo.” 

Playing catch-up

At 2.03m tall Alison lives up to his nickname of 'The Mammoth' and towers over the more diminutive Alvaro, just as he does most players. Together though they are showing signs of matching the success he enjoyed with Emanuel Rego and then Bruno Schmidt.

They won World Tour gold in their second tournament, the Kuala Lumpur 3-Star, then added another from the Espinho 4-Star, before closing up their debut season with silvers from the Vienna 5-Star and Moscow 4-Star.

After the coronavirus pandemic forced the pair away from the sand, they made a return on the Brazil National Tour in September.

"I came back with renewed energy for a 'new Olympic year',” Alison said. “I really missed the training, the routine, the adrenaline... I missed all the 'suffering' at practice.

“We know that everything has changed in these six months - the world and the sport have changed. But I am happy to see how we got back - extremely focused, very well prepared. It has everything to be a great season.”

Alison made the beach volleyball world sit up and take notice when he and Harley Marques won silver at the Stavanger 2009 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships.

In 2010 Alison received a call from Emanuel who was looking for a player with whom he could repeat the success he enjoyed with Ricardo Santos which included gold from Athens 2004 and gold from the Rio de Janeiro 2003 World Championships.

They nearly matched that success. While they won gold at the Rome 2011 World Championships, they lost out to Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann in the London 2012 final.

Top of the world

By 2014 Alison teamed up with Bruno Schmidt and within two years they were sitting at the top of the beach volleyball world.

First, they dominated on their way to gold at the Netherlands 2015 World Championships and then a year later they ended Brazil’s wait for male champions when they won gold on their home sand at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games.

As they were in the Netherlands, the pair were in imperious form at Rio 2016. Alison was at his powerful best at the net, while behind him Bruno was a whirl of energy and agility, both in attack and defence.

They crowned their run by defeating Italy’s Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai 2-0 (21-19, 21-17) on a night when the rain poured on 12,000 spectators at Copacabana, but when there was no chance of anyone leaving as Alison and Bruno had the eyes of their country on them.

“In 2012 I won a silver medal and this one is more precious,” Alison said. “I needed to do my job to the best of my ability and help Bruno.

“It took a lot of dreaming and a lot of desire. I believed in doing this and I found a partner that believed in this too.

 “It was four years of hard work. A lot of dedication, a new team, and a lot of faith. That is what brought us here today.”

Brazil´s Alison Cerutti celebrates at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Three from three

Alison and Bruno rounded off 2016 by winning gold at the Toronto 2016 FIVB World Tour Finals, but since then Alison has missed out on the medals at the Vienna 2017 and Hamburg 2019 World Championships, and three World Tour Finals.

With Alvaro he is back in a settled partnership and able to look forward to developing their understanding and challenging for even more major medals.

“When Álvaro and I joined forces, in March, there was some fear that maybe we wouldn’t qualify, but once we started to know each other better and to progress as a team, this fear started to dissipate,” Alison told FIVB.com in October 2019.

“We have enough time until the Games for us to prepare as well as we need. Now what we want is to make sure we do everything we can so we can play at our best.”

Read more: Roster 100 to showcase stars of volleyball and beach volleyball

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