When you live 500 kilometres from a beach, it’s quite unusual to be attracted by a sport like beach volleyball. Yet, Ana Patricia, 22 years old and 1.94m tall, is one of Brazil’s biggest hopes for the Olympic Games taking place in Tokyo next year.
Together with her teammate Rebecca, the native of Espinosa (Minas Gerais) won two major tournaments during 2019’s World Tour, finishing second in another and third in three others.
It is a level of regularity that has helped the team qualify for Tokyo 2020, despite enormous competition within Brazil. Indeed, the South American country has had the most success of any nation in Olympics beach volleyball competitions, with three gold, seven silver and three bronze medals already.
Not being from the coast, Ana originally experimented with other sports such as futsal and handball, but she fell in love with beach volleyball the first time she played it. “It was love at first sight, that’s the only way I can define it! When I entered the field, I knew it was the ambiance I wanted,” she told the Olympic channel.
And she was a very fast learner, despite initially not having a great knowledge of the sport. As she explained to surtoolimpico.com: “When I started beach volleyball, I had no idea of even the basis of volleyball, but as I had tried other sports, it eased my progression. It was really great because I found people very committed to teach me. But it was also difficult, because I was obviously behind many other players. But I focused all my energy on it and managed to learn a lot.”
After the success of winning the Youth Olympics in 2014, she went on to become a double U-21 world champion. And now that she has qualified for Tokyo 2020, she can achieve a dream. “I always dreamt a lot about being an athlete, being Brazilian champion, world champion, Olympic champion”, she told the Olympic Channel. She has already ticked the first three boxes, next year could see her tick the fourth…