How Duda followed in her mother’s footsteps to become world champion
Brazilian beach volleyball star Eduarda Santos Lisboa, aka Duda, triumphed in Rome with partner Ana Patrícia to win the FIVB World Championships. This is how she got there.
Brazil's Eduarda Santos Lisboa, aka Duda, and her team-mate Ana Patrícia Ramos claimed the South American nation's sixth women's beach volleyball world title when they triumphed at the FIVB World Championships in Rome, Italy. The 2014 Youth Olympic champions celebrated wildly after defeating the Canadian pairing of Sophie Bukovec and Brandie Wilkerson in two sets; 21-17, 21-19.
Speaking to Volleyball World after the win, Duda commented: “I’m so happy that I’m out of words to describe my feelings. It’s really a dream come true. I’m just so happy with the result of our work. We were able to put everything we trained into work and every match was better than the previous one. I have to thank my partner, our team, our sponsors and family members because we wouldn’t have done it without them.”
But how did she get to the point of becoming world champion? Read on to find out.
I’m so happy that I’m out of words to describe my feelings. It’s really a dream come true
Duda decided at just nine years old to follow in her mother's footsteps into beach volleyball. From her childhood home in the coastal state of Sergipe she grew up with her feet in the sand: her mother, Maria Aparecida 'Cida' Lisboa, is a former player and took her daughter along to various competitions on the Brazilian circuit.
"My mother used to take me to championships in the north-east, closer to home," she recalls. "At the age of nine, I started training at the little school she ran. I realised that I had a knack for the sport and started competing. At the age of 12, I was already playing with under-19 athletes."
In 2013, when she was 14 years old, Duda became the first beach volleyball athlete to compete in the same year at the grassroots World Cups of three different ages. Alongside Tainá, she took the title in the under-19 category and was runner-up in the under-23.
As Duda's game improved, she started receiving invitations to partner with more experienced athletes. After achieving her first podium places in adult competitions with Elize Maia, in 2017 Duda accepted Ágatha Bednarczuk’s invitation and the two ended up playing together for four years.
The dream season – or the first dream season, at least – came in 2018 with the World Tour title and being named best player in the world: she was the youngest athlete ever to take that award. The following year, she repeated the accomplishment and once again took home the trophy for best player on the planet.
These achievements only made me want to dedicate myself even more to each training session and each game
Now, at the height of her career, Duda is still pursuing two goals: to win the Brazilian Circuit - she has two silver medals so far - and to take home a medal from the biggest sporting stage of all: in Tokyo she made it to the round of 16. "Brazil has a great tradition, but I don't put myself under this pressure, I try not to think about what could happen, otherwise I get anxious," she says.
In addition to matches and training, another mantra that keeps Duda grounded is to keep listening to the precious advice of her biggest supporter. "My mother is no longer my coach, but I will listen to her advice for the rest of my life," says Duda. "She is my best friend. In our chats, she always asks me to be happy, have humility and enjoy every moment."