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A three-time Olympic medallist, Gilberto Godoy Filho enjoyed his greatest moment at Athens 2004, where he inspired Brazil to volleyball gold.
Despite badly damaging his left arm in a serious accident at the age of 10, Gilberto Amauri de Godoy Filho, commonly known as “Giba”, would go on to be considered one of the world’s greatest volleyball players during the 2000s.
The outside hitter’s CV makes for impressive reading: three FIVB World Championship titles (in 2002, 2006 and 2008), eight FIVB World League victories, two Olympic silver medals (in 2008 and 2012) and one gold (in 2004), as well as 319 international caps for Brazil.
The pinnacle of the talented No7’s career will forever remain Athens 2004, where Brazil emerged as champions and he was named the Olympic volleyball tournament’s Most Valuable Player. “It was the crowning moment for a generation that had won everything there was to win since 2001,”he said.
“In four years, we’d only lost twice at major championships. We were hungry for success – we needed it and wanted it. And for it to happen in Athens made it even more wonderful. It was absolutely amazing to have those laurel wreaths placed on our heads.”
On 29 August 2004, in front of 10,000 fans at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Piraeus, the Brazilians overcame Italy 3-1 in the gold medal match (25-15, 24-26, 25-20, 25-22). “It was a tense, nerve-wracking final,” said the skilful Olympian. “We had to be so focused. We were all at the peak of our careers, physically and technically speaking. It was only right for that generation to get its just rewards.”
Giba has previously stated, when looking back on his two decades performing at volleyball’s highest level, that he views his four Olympic appearances – from Sydney 2000 to London 2012 – as the highlights of his career.
“There’s something special about the Games that’s difficult to explain. Every athlete feels the Olympic spirit deep down. For many people, just taking part is already a victory, while others have greater aspirations,” he explained.
On 12 August 2012, following an incredible Olympic final between Brazil and Russia, which was won by the latter in five sets, Giba, announced that he would be bringing down the curtain on his international career. “I feel pretty sad today,” said the Brazilian captain. “I’ve played for the national team for 20vyears, and I wanted to finish up with another gold medal. A silver is nice, but it’s not exactly what I was hoping for. That’s life, I suppose.”