The Block Machine
Known as "The Block Machine" because of his efficiency at the net, Ricardo Santos began competing in beach volleyball at the age of 19 without ever having played indoor volleyball. By 2000, he and his partner, Zé Marco, were one of the two top-ranked teams in the world.
In the Olympic final on Bondi Beach in Sydney, they faced Americans Dain Blanton and Eric Fonoimoana, against whom they had a career record of 4-0. Ricardo and Zé Marco led the first set 11-8, but the American pair won 12-11. In the second set Ricardo and Zé Marco trailed early, but closed the gap to 9-10 before falling 9-12 and ending up with silver medals.
In 2003 Ricardo joined with a new partner, Emanuel Rego, and the two won the world championship. At the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Ricardo and Emanuel were hard-pressed in the semifinals by Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel of Switzerland. After splitting the first two sets, Ricardo and Emanuel trailed 9-10 in the deciding set before coming from behind to win 15-12. In the final against Javier Bosma and Pablo Herrera of Spain, the Brazilian pair never trailed and won 21-16, 21-15.
In Beijing, for his third Olympic Games, Ricardo Alex Santos’s team mate was still Emanuel Rego. The world-champion Brazilian pair qualified for the semi-finals. The two men competed for a place in the final against their compatriots Araujo and Magalhaes. The athletes knew each other by heart, and the match was very close. Araujo and Magalhaes ended up having the advantage, and they won by two sets to nil. In the bronze medal match, Santos and Rego beat Georgia’s Gomes and Terceiro in two sets. This was the third Olympic medal for Ricardo Alex Santos - one in each metal!