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Larissa França is a beach volleyball player competing at the 2012 London Summer Olympics for Brazil.

One of the game's best since she became a regular on the FIVB World Tour in 2004, Brazil's Larissa França enters her second consecutive Olympics, but first with longtime partner Juliana Silva. Larissa and Juliana were slated to be one of the top three seeds at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but Juliana withdrew days before the Opening Ceremony because of an injury to her right ACL. She originally hurt her knee about six weeks before the Games and declined surgery with the Olympics so close. Juliana's physical therapy allowed her to compete in Austria a week before the Games, but after winning four matches, Juliana had to withdraw. So Larissa partnered with Ana Paula Connelly in Beijing and placed fifth. In 2004, Larissa and Juliana's first year on the international scene, the young duo was not one of the two Brazilian women's teams to earn a berth for the Athens Olympics.

Larissa and Juliana have won more international tournaments than any other women's duo in history (44). In 2009, they won eight international tournaments, a women's single-season record that was the best ever until Americans Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser won nine men's FIVB events in 2010. Larissa and Juliana have won the FIVB World Tour championship six of the last seven years — 2005, '06, '07, '09, '10 and '11 — and thus, are a gold-medal contender for the London Games. Larissa was named the FIVB's Best Setter from 2006-11. In March 2012, Larissa and Juliana won their 100th career tournament: 42 FIVB titles, 56 on the Brazilian national tour, and two Pan American Games gold medals.

Despite finding success for years, Larissa and Juliana had never won an FIVB world title until 2011, when they came from behind in the third set of the final to defeat three-time world champions and two-time Olympic gold medalists Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings of the U.S. However, Larissa and Juliana had won a medal at each of the three world championships in which they previously competed together. They lost in the gold-medal match at the 2005 Worlds to May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings, and took bronze at the 2007 Worlds after losing to China's Tian Jia and Wang Jie in the semifinals. In 2009, Larissa and Juliana returned to the final, but again were beat by an American pair, this time Jen Kessy and April Ross. Larissa also appeared at the 2003 Worlds in Rio de Janeiro and placed 17th with Ana Richa.

While Larissa and Juliana have long dominated the World Tour, they can't yet claim to be the world's best when compared to May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings. After five opening losses in head-to-head matchups, Larissa and Juliana scored their first win over the Americans in the final of the Acapulco Open in October 2005. Through 2010, the Brazilians' overall record against May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings was 4-12. But the duos met six times in 2011 — May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings' first season together since 2008 — and Larissa and Juliana prevailed five times, including a 3-1 mark when they met in a gold-medal match. In two matches this summer before London, each duo won once.

Overall, Larissa and Juliana have won 44 of the 105 FIVB events in which they've competed, and landed on the podium in another 36 international tournaments. They also won gold at the Pan American Games in 2007 and '11. Larissa and Juliana's first FIVB title came on July 10, 2004 in Mallorca, Spain, their sixth event together. They were supposed to be paired by the Brazilian federation earlier in their careers, but injuries delayed it: Juliana was dealing with a knee injury in 2002-03, while Larissa had disc problems in her back in 2004.

When Juliana first saw Larissa play beach volleyball, she wasn't impressed. But "after a time, when I saw she play well and really smart, I changed my mind," Juliana says. "And now I think she's the best one (in the world), and for me." When asked why they play so well together, Larissa says, "I think it because (we) work very hard six hours (a) day and five day (a) week. And strong mental, very strong. Both of us."

Larissa began playing indoor volleyball in 1996 and in 2000 her club captured the Brazilian title. She started playing beach volleyball in 2001, when she was invited to train in Fortaleza, more than 1,400 miles north of her hometown in Cachoeiro de Itapemirim on Brazil's east coast. Larissa's lack of height was a key reason she was encouraged by a coach to try beach volleyball instead of the indoor game. She made her World Tour debut in 2002 with Leninha Aguiar at the Vitoria Open in Brazil, and played four FIVB events in 2003 with Ana, never placing higher than 17th. Larissa also competed in the 2003 Pan Am Games with Ana, winning bronze.

Outside of volleyball, Larissa runs a business that specializes in hosting children's parties. The company, La Li Boom, is based in Fortaleza. "It's a big business, the biggest in Fortaleza," Juliana says, adding, "You can invite 300 persons to the parties, it so big." Larissa says the business is what she plans to focus on when her volleyball career ends, which she doesn't think will come until after the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. "I know one day I need to stop the beach volleyball, I (am) thinking 2016, and after I need work," she says.


How tall is Larissa França? How old is Larissa França? Where does Larissa França live? Find out here.

Age: 34 years old
Birthday: April 14, 1982
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 150 lbs.
Birthplace: Cachoeira de Itapemirim, Brazil
Current Residence: Fortaleza, Brazil

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