Elite16 - Ostrava, CZE - 2023 - Beach Pro Tour 2023 season - News


Ágatha in action during the last FIVB World Tour event, in Itapema, on November 2021

The Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour is currently in the middle of its second season and Ágatha Bednarczuk, one of the most successful players in international beach volleyball in the last decade, hasn’t had a feel of it yet.

That, however, is about to change soon as, after 18 months away from international competition, the 39-year-old Brazilian is set to appear in this week’s Elite16 event in Ostrava with new partner Rebecca Cavalcanti.

  • Watch all matches at the Beach Pro Tour Ostrava Elite16 event live on VBTV.

Ágatha stepped away from the sport right before the start of the inaugural Beach Pro Tour season, in 2022, when she announced she was pregnant with her first daughter, Kahena. The Brazilian is about to make a comeback just a few weeks away from her 40th birthday on June 22 and couldn’t be more excited about it.

“It’s a mix of excitement and happiness,” she told Volleyball World. “It means a lot to me to compete on the Beach Pro Tour after all I’ve experienced in the last year. I love being on the court, competing and feeling the emotions that only sports can generate. And now I’ll get to experience all of that as a mother, with Kahena by my side. I know that it will be very challenging in many different ways, but I tried to prepare for it in the best way I could, so let’s see how it goes.”

Kahena, who was born last November, will be making the trips around the world with Ágatha as she competes on the Beach Pro Tour, but the Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist will certainly have no issues in finding volunteers to help her take care of the baby.

That's not only because her husband, Renan Rippel, will be traveling with them as the team manager and fitness coach, but also due to the fact that Kahena was already captivated everyone around her, including Rebecca, who’s a mother too, to eight-year-old Isabella.

“Having Renan with me on the team has been essential,” Ágatha remarked. “It’s amazing that we get to live the wonderful experience that’s parenting 100% together. We help each other daily, making time for each other to rest or work, and on the road, his presence will be even more valuable as he’s used to caring for Kahena and will allow me to focus even more on training and playing. Our entire team has been great, our coach Marco Char, and Rebecca too, she’s super excited that she will get to spend even more time with Kahena now. I tried to get her used to our routine from the very beginning and I think that helped.”

Motherhood has also been a theme that brought Ágatha and Rebecca together in their short period as partners. The two, who grew used to playing each other over the last several years, created a strong bond off the court by raising their kids together.

On the sand, they only got to play in a Brazilian Tour event two months ago, so the goal now is to continue to solidify the new team, starting this week in Ostrava, where they begin as the fifth-seeded team in the main draw.

“I felt that we connected in a very special way and the fact that she’s a mother as well has been huge,” Ágatha, a 2015 world champion, commented. “She understands exactly everything I’m going through and that has been very beneficial to our team. We only got to play together once and it was nice for us to start working as a team on the court, but I think our main strengths at this point are our union and our desire to make it work. With time, we’ll understand our strengths and weaknesses better and will solidify our team, but we want to do the best we can in Ostrava and fight for every point.”

Agatha Rebecca 2905

Ágatha and Rebecca played in only a Brazilian Tour event before their international debut this week in Ostrava (Photo: Dhavid Normando/FVImagem/CBV)

Ágatha’s return to international competition has suffered some minor setbacks as she had originally planned to compete at the Tepic Elite16, in March, but ended up sustaining a knee injury while playing on the Brazilian Tour two weeks before the event and had to wait a little longer to make her comeback.

The delay has made the new team start behind in the internal race for a spot at the Paris 2024 Olympics as Brazil currently have four teams among the seven best in the FIVB Provisional Olympic Ranking – a country can only qualify a maximum of two teams per gender for the Games.

“We had to make some adjustments to our plan because of the injury, but I’m confident we’ll soon be in a position that allows us to fight for our goals,” she reacted. “Unfortunately we missed some tournaments because of it, but we can only look ahead now. There will be plenty of events until the June 2024 deadline and we’ll try to be very intelligent and efficient with our strategy. Starting behind obviously makes it more difficult, but we can get there. And the first step is to become the best team we can be.”

Ágatha and Rebecca are part of Pool D in the Ostrava Elite16 and will play their first match on Thursday, against the home team of Barbora Hermannová and Marie-Sara Stocholová. Later on the dame same, they will battle with Swiss Nina Brunner and Tanja Hüberli. Their third pool play opponents will come from Wednesday’s qualifier.

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