21.06.2019 - Hamburg, Germany
Few players competing at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Hamburg 2019 presented by comdirect and ALDI Nord have a better record at the event than Alison Cerutti.
The Brazilian Olympic champion has won two golds and one silver medal in five appearances and will head to the Rothenbaum Stadium looking to expand his collection.
Now paired with Álvaro Filho, the Mammoth has topped the World Champs podium in both Rome 2011, with Emanuel Rego, and the Hague 2015, with Bruno Schmidt, and finished second in Stavanger 2009, when he made his debut in the event with Harley Marques.
“It’s nice to think that I first played at the World Championships 10 years ago,” Alison reflected. “The sport has changed so much since then. When I first played in the World Tour I was one of the tallest guys around and if you look at it now, pretty much every team has a guy as tall as me. This younger generation is very strong and teams from several countries are facing the traditional powerhouses, like Brazil and the United States, in equal conditions, which is great for the sport.”
To remain competitive over the past decade, Alison needed to keep evolving too. At 33, the Brazilian has won every piece of silverware that most beach volleyball players can only dream of, but that hasn’t made him stop looking for ways to progress.
The Mammoth hasn’t been at the top of his game since the Rio 2016 Olympics, which he won with Bruno, and the two changes of partnership he had since then, from Bruno to André Loyola and from André to Álvaro, show, if anything, his willingness to get back on track.
“The truth is you cannot stop evolving,” the blocker added. “It’s very easy to get to the top and think there’s nothing more to learn or to improve, but that’s the first step before you fall. I’m very grateful that I have a great team and an awesome partner that push me in the right direction every day. Nothing lasts forever and even if my past is great and so special, I try to put it behind me and focus on my next goals.”
“I made my choices in the past, some think they were good, others believe they weren’t great, but I learned from each of them. It requires maturity and humbleness, but that’s the only way to go through all these changes and evolve not only as an athlete, but also as a person.”
Since 2017, Alison has won just two golds, one silver and two bronzes on the World Tour. That’s a far cry for a player who topped the podium as many as 10 times between 2015 and 2016, when Bruno and he dominated the world.
But the veteran is hopeful he’ll be able to turn things around with Álvaro. The team has played in six tournaments and has had some mixed results, but the progress they’ve made was good enough to make the Mammoth confident about their future.
“We’re still a new team and what put us together was the fact that he had common goals and the same beliefs about how to accomplish them,” he commented. “And our start has been promising. We are no longer playing country-quotas, moved up in the rankings and improved in several aspects of our games. We hope to show it in Hamburg. We both have good retrospect on the World Championships and we enjoy playing it, so we’re excited and confident.”
Their highest point so far has been, for sure, the gold medal they won at the three-star tournament in Kuala Lumpur at the start of May. That result not only placed Alison at the top of the podium for the first time in two years but also helped secure the team’s spot in Hamburg.
“The Kuala Lumpur victory was very special,” the Olympic champion acknowledged. “To be in the top of the podium again after two years was great and I don’t think many athletes have won three, four and Major tournaments, plus the World Tour Finals. We needed to be in the top three to qualify for the World Championships and we did it, but it wasn’t easy, there was a lot of pressure and several challenges and we just powered through them.”
Their victory, though, won’t help them in their race to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as according to the Brazilian parallel qualification system, just results from four and five-star events, as well he World Championships, are considered to determine which pairs will fill any berths the country eventually earns for the Games.
That means that the outcome of the tournament in Hamburg will have huge weight in the process. Right now, Alison and Álvaro are tied for second with Pedro Solberg and Vitor Felipe, while Evandro Goncalves and Bruno Schmidt are at the top.
“It could be massive regarding Olympic qualification,” Alison said. “Since the points are higher than any other tournament, any Brazilian team that finishes a few spots better than the others will have a huge lead. So, we’ll be focused to do well, but if in the end of the day it’s not usup there, we cannot think it’s over. We will keep fighting and taking each tournament at a time.”
The Brazilians were drawn on Pool E and will debut against Americans Billy Allen and Stafford Slick on June 28 and the match will be live on BeachStream. Click here to register.