03.06.2019 - HAMBURG, GERMANY
Brazil will field a strong and experienced roster at the men’s tournament of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Hamburg 2019 presented by comdirect and ALDI Nord with seven of the country’s eight players entered to compete at the Rothenbaum combining for 24 appearances and nine medals won at the event.
The only exception is 22-year-old George Wanderley, an Under-19 and Under-21 world champion who’s set to make his debut in the senior version of the tournament in Hamburg with reigning champion Andre Loyola.
George’s presence at the tournament was only secured at the conclusion of the World Tour three-star event in Kuala Lumpur, just the second tournament Andre and him played together, when they finished ninth and secured the fourth and final berth in Hamburg among the Brazilians.
“It was hard to believe we made it because all five Brazilian teams had pretty much the same amount of points before Kuala Lumpur and we just knew we were in when it ended,” explained defender George. “I am a very anxious person and I try not to think too much about it, especially because we still have a few other tournaments before, but it’s hard. I talk to Andre about it and he keeps telling me a lot of great things, so I cannot wait to go out there and play.”
His senior World Championship debut will, of course, mark the Campina Grande-native’s career, but when analyzed in context, it looks like just another expected step forward on his beach volleyball trajectory.
George featured in the youth World Championships, winning the Under-19 in 2014 and the Under-21 in 2016, both with Artur Lanci, who was also his partner in the fifth-place campaign at the 2014 Youth Olympics.
In 2018, he impressed on his first true appearance among the beach volleyball elite, finishing fourth at the Fort Lauderdale Major with Pedro Solberg after starting from qualification.
Now, with Andre by his side, he just wants to keep climbing.
“It’s nice to see the progress of my career,” the Brazilian reflected. “I started playing at a very young age under the influence of my father and I feel that since I really started taking it seriously, as a real job, things started to go well for me. It has always been one step at a time and I hope it continues this way.”
The World Championships, however, have always been in his sights. George made his first beach volleyball moves at the CT Cançaco, a traditional training center in Joao Pessoa, where he still practices and shared sessions with several of Brazil’s top players, including Ricardo Santos, Harley Marques, Vitor Felipe and Alvaro Filho.
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Known in Brazil as a beach volleyball junkie, he watched closely when his best friends played in previous editions while he eagerly wanted to be there as well. Now, his time has finally arrived.
“I always followed the tournament on TV, especially after Alvaro and Vitor, who are very close friends, started playing on it and I have some really nice memories about it ,” he added. “It will be very nice to finally take part on it and an honor to be there with Andre, who’s the defending champion.”
His partner is actually a source of inspiration for him. In Vienna 2017, it was Andre who was making his World Championship debut and being a first-timer didn’t stop him from winning the gold medal with former partner Evandro Goncalves.
At the time, Andre became the youngest player to be ever crowned world champion at the age of 22. But that could be about to change shortly. Or maybe not.
“That’s actually funny because he already noticed that if we win the tournament in Hamburg, I’ll take his spot as the youngest world champion ever,” George told us laughing. “So he keeps saying that he doesn’t know if he really wants us to do it, but I hope I can convince him until there because I really believe we are good enough to compete with the best.”
Well, it’s time to show it…