Luciano De Cecco (ARG)

The bronze medal won by Argentina at the Olympic Games Tokyo Olympics has motivated team captain and setter Luciano De Cecco to extend his international career for at least another year.

Before receiving the best setter award at the Olympic tournament, the 33-year-old veteran had planned to end his national team career in Tokyo. But after stepping on to the podium with his teammates in the Japanese capital, that plan has now changed. In an interview with Argentinean website El Litoral, De Cecco said he would continue playing internationally at least until the 2022 FIVB Men’s World Championship.

“Before the Games, I was determined it would be my last appearance,” he said. “And I played the Olympics as if it was the last time. But our great result showed how much I still want to help volleyball in Argentina, so I’ve decided to continue until next year’s World Championship. After that, we’ll see.”

Part of the Argentinean national team since 2006, De Cecco knows the team will carry massive expectations next year after taking a place on the Olympic podium for the first time in 33 years. De Cecco is very cautious, though, when analysing Argentina’s chances of matching the level of success they had in Tokyo and returning to the podium at the World Championship for the first time since 1982.

“In Argentina, anytime a team accomplishes something, people expect even more in the next tournament,” the setter reflected. “We need to avoid those expectations because there’s a big chance we won’t make it to the semifinals of the World Championships. It’s something we have never done before with this team.”

The first step towards a good result at next year’s World Championships will be getting a good finish at next month’s South American Championship in Brasilia, Brazil, from September 1-5.

However, regardless of what the future holds for De Cecco and the Argentinean national team, they expect their strong campaign in Tokyo to motivate young players in the country.

“We set the bar high,” the setter added. “But it’s a good thing for the young players who want to have a career in volleyball. They now know they can dream big and that if they work hard, they can make it happen. Winning and losing is part of sportsand you have to learn how to deal with it. But for young players, having something to dream of makes a big difference.”