Elite16 - Uberlandia, BRA - 2023 - Beach Pro Tour 2023 season - News


More than 20 years after the start of her international career, Talita is still a part of the elite of the sport

This week’s Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Uberlândia Elite16 could be just another one of the countless international events Talita Antunes got to play at home in her long career, but this one will leave a mark in the Brazilian’s trajectory in the sport.

A three-time Olympian, the 40-year-old Talita will become the first woman to appear in 200 international beach volleyball events when partner Thamela Coradello and her compete in the tournament that’s set to take place at Praia Clube from Wednesday to Sunday.

  • Watch the Beach Pro Tour Uberlândia Elite16 live or on demand on VBTV.

Talita’s international career started more than 20 years ago, just 1,000km east of Uberlândia, as she first represented Brazil in an FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event in Vitória during the 2002 season alongside longtime partner Renata Ribeiro.

Between her debuting event and now, Talita has competed in 30 different countries and all five continents in one of the longest and most remarkable careers in the sport.

“Achieving this mark makes me very happy,” she told Volleyball World. “To be able to represent Brazil doing what I love in so many events is truly special. I always thought I’d continue to play for as long as I could compete at a high level, but after I had my son (in 2018), there was some doubt if I still wanted to continue. Luckily, it all worked out and now, looking back, I see that every drop of sweat and every second of my life I dedicated to beach volleyball has been absolutely worth it.”

Besides the longevity, another thing that makes Talita’s career very special is the extremely high level she has been able to sustain during the two decades she’s been competing against the best players in the world.

Talita has won her first gold medal just three years into her professional career, in 2005, and has been at the top of the podium as recently as last November, when Thamela and her won the Beach Pro Tour Cape Town Elite16 – she won at least one event in 14 different seasons and only ended a year without a medal in the shortened 2020 season, when she played in just one event.

Talita has had eight international partners during the last 20 years and won medals with the six that she got to play with in more than one event. Her total medal count currently stands at 75 (36 golds, 20 silver and 19 bronze) and the Brazilian is one of just a few players to have won tournaments in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America.

“I wouldn’t have done it without the help of so many great people I got to meet along the way,” she explained. “I have a lot to thank for the exceptional professionals I had and still have in my teams and also every partner I had, as each of them helped me be the player and person I am today. I always took great care of my body, but I think I was fortunate too for never having a serious injury in my career.”

Even after so long on the sand, Talita is still experiencing new feelings in the sport. For the last six months, she’s been playing with the 22-year-old Thamela, who’s not only the youngest partner she’s ever had, but also 18 years younger than her.

The two will be among the 16 teams that play in the qualifier of the Uberlândia on Wednesday and will try to secure a spot in the main draw in order to make the event even more special for the Brazilian legend.

“Thamela brought a lot to our team,” Talita reflected. “Because of her youth, I feel like the training has become lighter and funnier and that’s very important. I’ve been learning a lot from her and I always try to share things that I think were important in my career. We’re confident we can have a good tournament in Uberlândia. We’re still a new team and there are some areas we can improve, but we’re really motivated to compete this week.”

If Talita’s past is bright, her future is still unclear. The Brazilian doesn’t want to set a plan for the years to come, but for as long as she keeps the bright in her eyes and her body allows her, she’ll be around. And, whenever she decides it’s time to walk away, she’ll do it with a lot of pride.

“All I know is that I’m much closer to retiring now than I ever was,” she reflected. “My body is not responding in the same way, but my experience helps me understand it and fight with the weapons I have. I still have goosebumps before every match and that’s what keeps me going. Looking back, I couldn’t be any prouder of what I built. Coming from a small city, with no beach, and representing Brazil for so long, I’ve come a long way. I hope my story can inspire people to believe and fight for their dreams.”

The Uberlândia Elite16 qualifier will have 16 teams in each gender in action on Wednesday. The top four men’s and women’s teams will advance to the main draw, which begins on Thursday.