But not for Brazilian Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa as the two-time FIVB World Tour Most Outstanding Player celebrates her 22nd birthday here today. Since 2013 when she appeared in her first World Tour event at the age of 16, Duda has climbed atop 13 FIVB podium in her career highlighted by five junior and one Olympic youth championships.
“I’ll be in Rio de Janeiro and it will be the first time in several years I’ll get to spend my birthday at home and not on the road," said Duda, who has won seven FIVB World Tour events with two different partners. "Part of my family will come to spend the day with me and I’m really grateful because I haven’t been with them in any of my last five birthdays.”
As for the quarantine period since competition on the FIVB World Tour was halted in mid-March, Duda said she "went back to my hometown Sao Cristovao (1,800 km, 1,110 miles north of Rio) and spent four months there. We weren’t able to practice or go to the gym in Rio, so we decided that the best for me was to go back there and be with my family. My mother owns a training facility and a gym in Sao Cristovao, so I was able to practice and work out there. I haven’t got to spend so much time with my family in a while, so I kind of enjoyed this time with them while also training.”
For her last three birthdays, she has spent them in Austria where she competed in the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships and the 2018 and 2019 FIVB Beach Volleyball Major Series events in Vienna competing with Agatha Bednarczuk. The pair has posted a 10-5 record in the Austrian capital, including a 3-1 record on Duda's birthday.
“I remember in the first year there we were playing at the World Championships and we lost on my birthday to a Dutch team (Madelein Meppelink and Sophie van Gestel), so it was a little sad," said Duda. "Last year was a lot better as the following day we won the bronze medal. In each of these years I got to be with my team on my birthday and even though we didn’t go out or anything like that we celebrated it and it has always been special. I understand that we need to remain focused in the tournament and I take it as a privilege that I’m able to celebrate my birthday in such a nice place.”
Duda also celebrated a birthday during the 2014 FIVB Under-19 World Championships where she and Andressa Cavalcanti won nine matches to top the podium in Porto, Portugal. “It kind of gives me an extra motivation to play on my birthday week," said Duda. "I feel like I’m always more determined to do well to make it even more special and hopefully gift myself with a medal. It’s an extra boost.”
Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa (left) and Andressa Cavalcanti with the gold medals for Brazil at the 2014 FIVB Under-19 World Championships
Duda said playing in "the World Championships were the most impressive events I’ve played so far. There are more teams and players from countries that we typically don’t face in a regular World Tour event and that’s nice. I also like playing at the World Tour Finals as it’s sort of an elite tournament, with the best teams from that season. And in regard to cities, I always enjoy playing in Vienna and Hamburg.”
Bronze medal at the 2019 Vienna Major for Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa and Agatha Bednarczuk of Brazil
On dealing with the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, Duda said "it was difficult at the beginning, but I understood that the current situation is tough for everyone. We needed to adapt and change plans, but I decided to look at the glass as half full. I see it as another opportunity for us to prepare and get better in every aspect and hopefully be stronger in 2021.”
As for being the youngest player to be named the FIVB World Tour's Most Outstanding Player, Duda said "that’s the kind of award that always surprises me in a certain way. But I see them as rewards for the dedication, the work and the efforts of my entire team. I wouldn’t have made it without Agatha or our coaching staff. It belongs to each of them as much as it belongs to me and it makes me incredibly pleased to see that all the hard work we put in is taking us to get these sorts of rewards.”
The only men's and women's player to win six FIVB World Tour titles before a 21st birthday, Duda can now enjoy the break in competition while celebrating her birthday today at home for a change.