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Marta Menegatti is a beach volleyball player competing at the 2012 London Summer Olympics for Italy.

In just her third full season of beach volleyball, Italy's Marta Menegatti makes her Olympic debut in London with another Olympic rookie, Greta Cicolari. The two began playing together in 2009, when both women made their first FIVB World Tour appearances. Menegatti and Cicolari look to win the first Italian medal in Olympic beach volleyball history, and would even record the best Italian finish ever at the Olympics in the sport if they were to place fourth. Italian women finished fifth at the 2000 and 2004 Games.

In 2009, Menegatti and Cicolari competed in four European challenger events before taking part in the last three events on that summer's World Tour. The pair showed some promise, so it played the entire 2010 season on the World Tour, recording middling results and finishing 23rd in the world rankings. But Menegatti and Cicolari improved dramatically in 2011, making five semifinal appearances in 13 World Tour events, winning a silver and two bronzes, and finishing sixth in the world rankings. At the 2011 World Championships in Rome, they were the clear fan favorites and played impressively, winning their first four matches in straight sets before falling to eventual bronze medalists Xue Chen and Zhang Xi in the round of 16. In August 2011, Menegatti and Cicolari won the European Championships, their first title together. At the end of the year, Menegatti was named the FIVB's Most Improved Player. In seven events leading up to London, the pair won three medals (one silver, two bronze).

Menegatti began playing beach volleyball in 2006 in European and FIVB youth tournaments, but also played professional indoor volleyball in a third-tier Italian league. She began to focus solely on beach volleyball at age 18 in 2009, when a new coach with the Italian program, a Brazilian named Lissandro, thought she'd work well with a 26-year-old beach newcomer — Cicolari. Menegatti and Cicolari had never previously seen each other, but the partnership has worked. They now train in Ancona, which is about 200 miles south of Venice on Italy's east coast. Both Menegatti and Cicolari also serve in the Italian Air Force and competed in the 2011 Military World Games in Rio de Janeiro.



When asked why they work well together, Cicolari says, "I think because we are not of the same age, and so there is the respect of the other people. And no one of us want to become more than the other. I have the right experience, she's very young but she's got talent." Although the 21-year-old Menegatti is one of the youngest players on the World Tour, she says she is not intimidated by playing against older women. "I know they have more experience, but I enter in the court to win," she says. "I don't mind if on the other side there is two people that have more experience on me. I try to win always." When she first started beach volleyball, Menegatti says she looked up to American Misty May-Treanor.

At the end of the 2010 season, Menegatti played two World Tour events with Valeria Rosso while Cicolari was injured. Despite losing their first match in the season finale, Menegatti and Rosso advanced all the way to the Phuket Open final, where they lost to Americans Kerri Walsh and Nicole Branagh. They were the first Italian team to ever compete in a World Tour gold-medal match. That tournament came a month and a half after Menegatti took silver with Viktoria Orsi Toth at the 2010 FIVB Junior Under-21 World Championships. A year earlier, Menegatti teamed with Debora Allegretti to win gold at the European Under-20 Championships. And in 2007, Menegatti played with Gilda Lombardo at the FIVB Youth Under-19 World Champoinships and placed second.

Menegatti began playing indoor volleyball when she was nine years old and says she would like to play into her 30s, then stay involved in the sport somehow, maybe as a nutritionist. Currently she studies sport through the University of L'Aquila, but only in the winter. The school is two hours south of Ancona, so she studies at home and drives to the campus for exams. When she's not playing volleyball or studying, Menegatti likes to spend time with her boyfriend and family, watching movies, or reading romance novels.



MARTA MENEGATTI: FACTS

How tall is Marta Menegatti? How old is Marta Menegatti? Where does Marta Menegatti live? Find out here.

Age: 24 years old
Birthday: August 16, 1990
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 148 lbs.
Birthplace: Rovigo, Italy
Hometown: Ariano Polesine, Italy
Current Residence: Ancona, Italy





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