Looking back three years in time, it would be nearly impossible for anyone to imagine that Brazilians Ana Patricia Ramos and Rebecca Cavalcanti could get where they are right now.
From having appeared in only one FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event together to approaching their first Olympics, the Brazilians have been in excellent form since 2018 and quickly established their names among the elite of the sport.
Their union, however, could very well have never happened. At the end of 2016, Rebecca, 23, was already an important name on the Brazilian circuit after she finished second in the country’s national tour three years earlier and had won a pair of World Tour bronze medals with Lili Maestrini.
The prospect of playing with Ana Patricia, who was only 19 at the time, didn't seem that appealing. She had already won the Youth Olympics and the FIVB U-21 Beach Volleyball World Championships, but was still in just her third year as a beach volleyball player after transitioning from handball.
“To be honest, I didn’t want to play with her at the time,” Rebecca said. “I thought she was still way too raw and she didn’t have a lot of entry points, so it didn’t really look like a good option for me. It took our coaching staff a lot of work to convince me it was worth at least trying and after we had some good results early on, it all started making more sense to me.”
Rebecca surely doesn’t regret her decision now. Since the two joined forces to work under the guidance of legendary coach Reis Castro, the team just took off. Sure, it took them a year to celebrate their first victory, in March 2018, on the Brazilian Tour, but since then, they have really taken things to a new level.
In Brazil the pair have won as many as 11 gold medals and secured the season title in 2019-2020. Internationally, they have been in strong form since the end of 2018, winning gold medals in Qinzhou, The Hague and Xiamen and six other medals, including bronzes at the Gstaad Major and the FIVB World Tour Finals in 2019.
The team that looks so united on the court is not as equal-minded when there’s not a volleyball and sand involved. Their differences, they say, are more of a strength than a weakness, however.
“I can’t explain how we get along so well because outside of the court we’re completely different,” the defender added. “From music to food or what we like to do during our time off, our tastes are very different. But I think the key for us has been to accept and respect each other, and make fun of our differences instead of trying to change or adapt to each other.”
Ana Patricia and Rebecca’s excellent performances over the last two years have put them very close to their dream of representing Brazil at the Tokyo Olympics. Even though the qualification process is still ongoing, the Brazilian Federation has already announced that they will be selected to represent the country in Japan sho
uld Brazil have two women’s berths secured at the deadline.
Currently ranked fourth in the FIVB World Rankings, they will carry a lot of expectations going into their first Olympics, but are determined to fight for gold. And after all they’ve accomplished recently, why shouldn’t they?
“When I think about the Olympics, all I feel is gratitude,” Ana Patricia commented. “When we started the quad, qualifying wasn’t among the goals we set. But things changed and it was a tough road, more so than anyone could have imagined. Right now, we’re very excited because we’ll have a chance to fulfil our dream and we’ll prepare in the best possible way for it.”
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