Francesca Alupei inspired by rowing Olympian parents


Francesca Alupei, here during the quarterfinal against China at the 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship in Ismailia, shunned rowing for volleyball.

Cairo, Egypt, September 8, 2019 - When both your parents were professional athletes in rowing, you may be expected to follow their footsteps. But Romania's middle blocker at the 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship here, Francesca Alupei, choose another sport far from sea, river or lake - and that's volleyball.

Her parents dreamed of seeing a rowing champion, but they fully supported Francesca when she decided to play volleyball as early as seven years old.

It was a strange coincidence that made Francesca pick volleyball at that early age. Watching television zapping through channels to find a volleyball match was her deciding moment to pick this sport.

Francesca Alupei in action at the 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship action at Cairo.

"I didn't go looking for volleyball, but volleyball found me," said Francesca to "I fell in love with this sport when I watched a match on TV."

"I tried many sports, like fencing and rowing before volleyball," added the 16-year-old. "But my parents signed me up with the club of CSM Bucuresti where I learned to play volleyball."

But there's a big family burden to carry for the young star.

"I have a big dream, to be an Olympic champion like my father and mother," she said.

Her mother Angela is a two-time Olympic gold medallist in lightweight double sculls from the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

Her father Dorin was a rowing world champion in 1993 and 1996 and a two-time Olympian from Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000.

"I think we can qualify to the best four in this tournament," said Francesca, shifting the conversation to the current competition in Egypt. "Our main opponents are Russia and Italy, but it's hard to predict who can win the title."

"I am happy to be here in Egypt. This is my first visit and I have a big chance to see the Pyramids which I know a lot of but just from books."

Quick links - Volleyball:
FIVB Volleyball Girls' U18 World Championship
Volleyball TV