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Emanuel Rego is a beach volleyball player competing at the 2012 London Summer Olympics for Brazil.

The all-time leader in FIVB tournament titles (77), Emanuel Rego is arguably the greatest international athlete to ever play the game. Prior to the 2010 season he picked up Alison Cerutti, 13 years his younger, and is the only male to compete in every Olympic beach volleyball tournament, which debuted in 1996. Emanuel has entered every Olympics as a gold-medal contender, but he placed ninth in his first two appearances — 1996 with Ze Marco Melo and with Jose Loiola in 2000, when they were reigning world champions. Emanuel was also the reigning world champ with Ricardo Santos in 2004, but he finally got his gold in Athens. Four years later, Emanuel and Ricardo left Beijing with bronze. In London, Emanuel and Alison, who makes his Olympic debut, are the No. 1 seed.

Emanuel's status afforded him to seemingly choose any Brazilian partner he wanted when he went looking after the 2009 season. But the reason for his split from Ricardo was because Emanuel wanted to be with his family in Rio de Janeiro, and thus train with someone in Rio. It just so happened that the up-and-coming Alison already lived in Rio. He ended 2009 at No. 2 in the world with Harley Marques, but Alison jumped at the chance to join the legendary Emanuel. The new pair didn't win any titles in 2010, the first year since Emanuel's rookie season in 1994 that he didn't win at least one World Tour event, but Emanuel and Alison still finished the year ranked second overall. They then broke through in 2011 with five FIVB titles, including gold at the 2011 World Championships. They also won the World Tour season title, Emanuel's 10th with five different partners. Emanuel, who was named the 2011 FIVB Most Outstanding Player, and Alison won two gold medals in the eight events they played in 2012 leading up to the Olympics.

Accustomed to playing with partners closer to his age, Emanuel says he can teach Alison a lot and also learn a lot from his young partner. Alison, who is nicknamed Mammoth, has a fiery personality on the court, and Emanuel says he sometimes needs to calm Alison down. But other times, Alison's passion helps fire up Emanuel. "I'm in the middle of new challenge because I used to play with partners the same age or older than me. It was like just go there using both (players') experience and play," Emanuel says, adding, "Sometimes I need (Alison's) fire, his will, and then sometimes he needs my experience… This is I think the best quality we have together."

After winning a men's FIVB-record 34 titles over seven years and 88 World Tour events together, Emanuel and Ricardo ended their partnership in August 2009. They won the 2003 world title and 2004 Olympic title, were the FIVB World Tour champions from 2003-2007, and were named FIVB Team of the Year from 2005-2007. Though quite a few teams played more tournaments together, no men's duo earned more money than Emanuel and Ricardo, who collected $1,856,530 in FIVB winnings during their partnership. "We think we could play more (together)," Emanuel says. "But emotionally I was very selfish for so many years. I think only volleyball and volleyball. I say, 'Ok, right now I have more time to be at home with my family.' That's my big goal for these last years." Emanuel and Ricardo remain good friends, as do their families. Emanuel was named FIVB Best Hitter and Most Outstanding in 2006.

Emanuel has played in every world championships since the event started in 1997, but prior to 2011 hadn't won a medal since he and Ricardo won the 2003 gold in Rio de Janeiro. In 2005, Emanuel and Ricardo were the top seed but placed 17th, worst among the four Brazilian teams. They were again the top seed in 2007, but fell to eventual champions Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser of the U.S. in the semifinals, then lost the bronze-medal match to Andrew Schacht and Josh Slack of Australia. Emanuel and Ricardo were seeded fifth at the 2009 Worlds, and placed fifth after being eliminated by eventual champs Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann of Germany in the quarterfinals. However, prior to 2003, Emanuel won the 1999 world title with Loiola. In 2001, Emanuel was fifth with Tande Ramos, and in 1997 he was fifth with Ze Marco.

Because Emanuel has regularly been among the world's best, he has teamed with the world's best. His partner from the '96 Games, Ze Marco, captured Brazil's first Olympic medal in men's beach volleyball in 2000, a silver with future Emanuel partner Ricardo. And Emanuel's teammate in 2001 and most of 2002 was Tande, who won an Olympic gold medal in 1992 as a member of Brazil's indoor volleyball team. Emanuel says has learned something from each person he's played with. From Ze Marco he learned to play with friendship, as he and Ze Marco were good friends off the court. From Loiola he learned to play very aggressively, and from Ricardo he was able to be the quiet one, as Ricardo made most of the noise. Prior to the five World Tour season titles with Ricardo, Emanuel also won in 1996 and '97 with Ze Marco, 1999 with Loiola, and 2001 with Tande. Prior to Emanuel, Ricardo also had successful partnerships with Ze Marco and Loiola.

By spending nearly two decades on the World Tour, Emanuel says he learned to grown up. Earlier in his career he was very confused because he wanted to win but didn't know how yet. "I play every ball, make every play, and forget about winning," he says. The turning point in his career was when he started to win events, which raised his confidence. Emanuel is not sure if he'll continue playing after London, but he's not ruling it out. "My goal now is play until London, and then I check it out if I (am) still competitive, because I push myself too much. I try to be always the big and high level. If one day I feel it's not the way I like it, I give up," he says.

Though his father was an excellent soccer player, Emanuel was so skinny as a child that he didn't pursue the sport. He began indoor volleyball at age 11 and played professionally for three years in Brazil before switching to beach in 1991 because he was still too slight and easily overpowered by bigger and stronger players. He remains thin, but Emanuel's fitness is clearly a reason why he's still among the elite. "When I think of myself and think of my body, I think as my company. I need to treat my company as best I can, so I do everything I need to be consistent during the training sessions. And every time I go to the training in the gym or running or on side of court, I want to be 100 percent, because I know that day, in that moment, the only thing I need to do is that. That's why I'm so focused on everything I do," he says.

Emanuel has two sons: Mateus, who will turn 15 on August 12, and Lukas, who will be 2 years old on September 13. Mateus is from Emanuel's first marriage, and Lukas is from his second marriage, which came in November 2008 to Leila Barros, a former indoor and beach volleyball player. She competed in three Olympics for the Brazilian indoor team, winning bronze in 1996 and 2000, and played six seasons on the international beach volleyball circuit. Barros now works as a volleyball commentator for Globo TV in Brazil. Emanuel and Leila began dating in 2001, but Emanuel spent most of his time in Joao Pessoa training, until the fall of 2008, when he moved to Rio full time.


How tall is Emanuel Rego? How old is Emanuel Rego? Where does Emanuel Rego live? Find out here.

Age: 43 years old
Birthday: April 15, 1973
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 181 lbs.
Birthplace: Curitiba, Brazil
Current Residence: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

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