Cherif Younousse never imagined that one day he would play on the same court as his childhood heroes. But now he is one of the world's best blockers and is working harder than ever alongside Ahmed Tijan to claim honours for his country Qatar.
Cherif’s fascination with beach volleyball started at a young age through his older brother.
“I started playing beach volleyball when I was eight years old. I got into it because my big brother was playing. My first sport was basketball, but I switched to beach volleyball during the summer.”
“When I became a beach volleyball player, it was a dream come true for me. As a kid, I would watch the likes of Phil Dalhausser and Ricardo Santos, who were the best players in the world at the time.
"Dalhausser and Ricardo are my favourites of all time because they are like blocking machines. The way they play the game, it's unreal. I wanted to be like them, so I worked very hard.
“I have never stopped dreaming and I continue to work hard in training. That is the only key to becoming a beach volleyball star.”
Cherif Younousse reached great heights early in his career, but the 1.94-metre-tall Qatari player never took victory for granted.
“My first tournament was an AVC event in Thailand in 2015 with my former partner. I was a rookie, while everyone else had experience and played on a different level. A year later we won the AVC Continental Cup to qualify to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“Being at the Rio Olympics is by far the biggest achievement of my career. I wasn’t even playing as a professional during London 2012, I was just an amateur who watched the sport on TV. Four years later, I was at Rio 2016, it was a dream come true.
“My most memorable event was the FIVB World Tour tournament at Kish Island in 2016. It was my first ever medal and gold medal at an FIVB event.
“Outside of beach volleyball, I like to spend time with my family and friends. I like going to the desert or beach, and drive motorbikes in the sand dunes. Sometimes I just spend time on the Playstation when I am home.”
Cherif lives, breathes and dreams beach volleyball. When he dreams, he dreams big.
“As a regular person, I am a believer in God, I am open-minded and approachable. I think this has a lot of significance in everything that I do.”
In achieving his dreams, Cherif lives by the lessons he has learnt from practicing sports.
“In sports, you always have to accept being critiqued. Learn how to listen, try to move forward and never give up.”
The Qatari player charms with his humility and respect for his fellow players’ talents.
“If I were to switch places with another beach volleyball athlete, I think I would switch places with Evandro (Gonçalves), because of the way he plays. We are quite similar in athleticism and power, so I see myself in him.”
Cherif also speaks several languages, which has helped in the past.
“I was playing at the Lucerne Open in 2015, playing against France in the second round of qualification. Before the match, I heard the French team talking in their language about their game plan. They didn’t know that I speak French, so I let them talk until the start of the match, when I wished them good luck in French.
“They were shocked and asked me if I speak French, so I said yes and they were like ‘Oh, so you heard everything we said about our game plan?’ I said 'yes' and after that we won the match. That was a very funny moment.
“Speaking many languages is my other talent. I am good with languages and speak French, Arabic, English, Portuguese and Spanish.”
Read more: Roster 100 to showcase stars of volleyball and beach volleyball