Hamburg, Germany, Aug. 19, 2018 – Agatha Bednarczuk, World Champion, Olympic silver medalist and now Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals presented by Vodafone gold medalist, is no ordinary volleyball player.
Not a bad mentor, either.
In her second season with Brazilian wunderkind – this is Germany, after all – Eduarda “Duda” Lisboa, the 35-year-old Agatha proved she has shepherded the 20-year-old Duda into the stardom that was predicted for her for years.
Not only did the Brazilians capture the fourth World Tour Finals championship with a 21-15, 21-19 victory over No. 2 Marketa Slukova and Barbora Hermannova Sunday at Rothenbaum Stadium, they cemented their status as the No. 1-ranked team in the world for 2018.
Careful, there’s more to come as the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification cycle commences. For this Brazilian team, there’s a lot to learn. More precisely, there’s a lot more for Duda to learn from Agatha, though being ranked No. 1 appears to be a decent starting point.
“Every tournament, she’s learning,” Agatha said. “Sometimes it’s about the attitude, sometimes technically, sometimes about the tactics, every tournament she has one thing she’s learning. And me, I’m learning all the time.”
Even with the immensely talented Duda, the 2017 Under-21 World Champion, it’s a challenge. But the improvement is not necessarily by baby steps, it’s starting to look like a rapid rise. The main challenge for Agatha is concentrating on her side of the court while at the same time helping guide Duda.
“I need to play my game but I need to think about all parts of the game because she is just starting,” Agatha said. “So I’m playing my game but I need to think about the tactics of the other team, what we are doing wrong, what’s up with her. I can’t do just my side, I can’t divide it with her 50-50. At this moment with our team, I need to do more.”
Duda might occasionally be a headstrong youngster, but she gets it.
“I think the big difference is that my mindset got a lot better,” Duda said. “In the past I’d be on the court and I wouldn’t know what to do when I was struggling. Now I have sessions with our psychologist and I know Agatha is there to help me, so I just try to stay positive. Even when I make a mistake, I keep been positive and I just try to focus on that play. It’s impressive how our minds can make the difference.
“I try to pay attention to anything she says, but sometimes I think we just have to follow our intuitions. But I know how helpful she can be and I try to listen to her all the time.”
“Sometimes she is a little nervous, sometimes she can play amazing,” Agatha said. “So this is our journey.”
The world is watching. And listening.