The Philippine women’s volleyball national team received extra motivation and inspiration during their training camp in Brazil as two-time Olympic gold medalist Sergio Santos graced their practice.
Santos, who was Brazil’s libero for several years, provided words of wisdom to the Philippine team – even bringing his four Olympic medals to inspire the Pinay volleybelles.
The 46-year-old Brazilian champion won gold during the 2004 Athens and 2016 Rio Games and a pair of silver in 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics.
“I grew up in the suburbs and dreamed of becoming a great volleyball player someday. I relentlessly pursued that dream, never gave up and eventually accomplished my goal,” Santos told the athletes through an interpreter after practice on Monday at the Sportville training camp.
The 14-man lineup of the Philippines for SEA Games appeared to have enjoyed Santos’ visit, taking individual and group photos with him.
The Philippine team is composed of Alyssa Valdez, Jema Galanza, Ces Molina, Kat Tolentino, Mylene Paat, Jaja Santiago, Aby Maraño, Majoy Baron, Dell Palomata, Ria Meneses, Kyle Negrito, Dawn Macandili, Kath Arado, and Iris Tolenada.
Santos also made sure to show his talent with the top liberos of the country, Macandili and Arado.
Assistant coaches Odjie Mamon and Grace Antigua were also elated to see the Olympic medals.
“Coach Grace and I were emotional when we saw the Olympic medals. It was also our dream to be there in the Olympics,” said Mamon, a former national team standout along with the Cebuana volleyball icon Antigua.
Aside from his Olympic medals, Santos has been regarded as one of the best liberos of all time after winning MVP awards in the 2009 FIVB World League and 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics.
The team already played Superliga A club Sao Caetano a day after their arrival Thursday last week and will engage in two more matches against Brazilian clubs on Wednesday and Thursday to gauge their medal bid in the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam next month.