29.06.2019 - Hamburg, Germany
For a long time, Marco and Esteban Grimalt were the only representatives of Chile in the international beach volleyball scene. The FIVB World Championships Hamburg 2019 presented by comdirect and ALDI Nord has brought another team from the country to the world stage as Ignacio Zavala and Gaspar Lammel are also representing the South American nation in Germany.
The tournament in Hamburg marks the first-ever world-class event for both the 24-year-old Zavala, who competed at last year’s World University Championship, and the 19-year-old Lammel, who played in both the Youth Olympics and the Under-19 World Championships in 2018, take part in.
“It’s exciting for us to be here,” Zavala stated. “We grew used to watching the World Championships on TV back home in Chile and to be here with the best teams in the world and to get to play with the Latvians, who are one of my favorite teams, was great. I’d also love to play with Phil Dalhausser, I watch his matches as much as I can.”
Their popular compatriots have opened the doors for a second Chilean team to be in Hamburg this summer as they qualified via the world rankings and also helped the country to secure another spot via the South American qualification pathway.
But their impact on the younger players goes far beyond the opportunity they just granted them as the Olympians are true role models for both Zavala and Lammel.
“They’ve been doing great lately in the World Tour and we really look up to them,” Lammel reflected. “It’s awesome that we have the opportunity to practice with one of the best teams in the world on a regular basis. They give us a pretty good idea on how high the international level is even if we didn’t get to play in the World Tour yet.”
Just by sharing the Grimalts’ routine, the young Chileans feel they both have already gotten better as players. And they want to continue moving forward to, one day, replace them and keep Chile well-represented at the highest level of the sport.
“We’re a team,” Zavala added. “We practice together, travel together, eat together…And having them around has been great. Not only because we get to see what they do and learn from them but also because they push us so hard and they force us to be better every day. We can already tell how much better we’ve gotten just because of them.”