Among the thousands of people of all ages playing sports and enjoying themselves on the beautiful beaches of Rio de Janeiro, you might meet a family that plays one of the most popular sports in Brazil – beach volleyball – and is not just having fun. They are the Salgados, and all of them are professional and famous players.
The sisters Maria Clara (28) and Carolina (24) have been very successful, both playing together and with other partners. And they had big shoes to fill – their mother Isabel Salgado was a professional beach volleyball player whose six seasons on the FIVB World Tour were crowned by some impressive achievements: 26 starts, one gold medal, six podium placements and eight final four finishes.
Maria Clara began playing volleyball when she was 12, starting with five years on the indoor circuit with Brazilian sports club Flamengo. She had her first experience in a World Tour in Fortaleza at the side of beach volleyball legend Jackeline Silva and reached fifth place. “She helped me to be quicker in the way I played”, said Maria about her partner in an interview in 2011.
Carolina started out even earlier, learning to play beach volleyball in her mother’s classes from the age of 9. A headstart that obviously paid off: she has been the most successful participant to date in the Swatch FIVB World Championships for players under 21! And credit where credit’s due: she is also considered one of the most beautiful women in beach volleyball worldwide.
The joint career of the Salgado sisters started in January 2003, and it didn’t take them long to do their mother proud: Maria Clara and Carolina became the first daughters of a medalist ever to capture a podium spot when they placed third at the 2005 season final in Cape Town, South Africa. Currently ranking eighth on the World Tour chart, these girls are among the most popular teams in Brazil and eternally beloved FIVB Heroes to their fans. Their team years may be ending as they are about to go their separate ways, but the reason for this split is a joyful one: Carolina is expecting her first baby! Check out the video of Maria Clara bringing us these great news. While Carolina prepares to become a mother (to another volleyball genius, we’re sure!), Maria Clara will continue in the Swatch World Tour with a new partner, former Brazilian national team spiker Raquel Pelluci.
By the way, it’s not only the women in the family that have achieved beach volleyball fame: Pedro Salgado (25) has competed on the Swatch FIVB World Tour while winning bronze medals at three FIVB challenger/satellite events. He also ruled at the 2002 Swatch FIVB U-18 World Championship, taking home the gold, and placed third in the 2004 U-21 event with two different partners.
Outside of the volleyball arena, the Salgados are like every other family, enjoying their lives at home or going to the cinema to have fun. But in the world of beach volleyball, they are royalty, a dynasty of giants – and FIVB Heroes through and through! And soon there will be another Salgado, boy or girl Carolina?