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Emanuel Rego: The 'real Bones' of beach volleyball

updated 9:10 AM EST, Wed November 6, 2013
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti are one of Brazil's top beach volleyball teams
  • Nicknamed "Bones and Mammoth," they won silver at London 2012 Olympics
  • The 40-year-old Rego has played at all five of the sport's Olympic appearances
  • He wants to add to his full collection of medals on home soil at Rio in 2016

CNN's Human to Hero series celebrates inspiration and achievement in sport. Click here for videos and features.

(CNN) -- Bones and Mammoth. They're quite a team -- and they love a beach party.

One is the wily veteran, a schemer who uses his years of experience to dictate play. The other is the powerhouse, the destroyer of opposition attacks.

Between them they have forged one of the strongest partnerships on the international beach volleyball circuit, continuing a fine tradition in their native country.

"When you talk about beach volleyball you're thinking about Rio de Janeiro, Copacabana beach, so this is the home of beach volleyball," Emanuel "Bones" Rego tells CNN's Human to Hero series.

"In the start it was a Brazilian sport and a USA sport, but right now beach volleyball is all around the world, many countries in Europe, and especially in Africa -- they have a lot of countries playing beach volleyball.

"Now I can say it's a world special party on the beach. Everybody can play, it's fun."

Brazil has won a gold or silver medal in every Olympics -- either in the men's or women's events -- since the sport's full debut at Atlanta '96.

Rego triumphed with Ricardo Santos in 2004, and in combination with Alison "Mammoth" Cerutti he picked up silver at London 2012.

Despite now being at the relatively advanced age of 40, he is hoping to take part in a sixth straight Games when Brazil is host in 2016 -- he already has the most Olympic appearances by any male beach player and a full collection of medals.

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"I know for me it's a little bit harder because in 2016 I'll be 43 years old -- no other player plays at this age," Rego says.

"But you know it's a good feeling when you go to your own country to play at the Olympic Games. I want to be there, for sure."

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Rego has been playing since he was 17, a mere waif from the city of Curitiba.

"I was so teeny -- no muscles just the bones -- but I'm still like that. This is the fun part. I'm still the real Bones."

At 27, Cerutti is the younger partner in the team.

"His nickname is Mammoth because he's big, he's a little bit slow -- but he's very strong," explains Rego.

Cerutti also has a big tattoo of a mammoth on his side -- the nickname comes from the character Manny in the "Ice Age" films.

"This is a great partnership," Rego says. "Beach volleyball is totally a team sport-- sometimes you are in bad position and your partner is the only one who can help you, so I trust a lot in Alison because he has saved me a lot of times.

"Alison is the best blocker at this moment and he makes me very fired up during the game. He puts his emotions into the game - that makes me happy on court, so this is my perfect partner."

They won the world title in Rome in 2011 -- Rego's third -- and reached the final at London 2012.

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"I am not the player that hits the ball very fast but I am trying to control the velocity of the game, using my experience to do the best shots," he says.

Cerutti adds: "Emanuel's best quality is his concentration on court. He's very focused, and always helps in crucial moments. It's important."

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They were unable to defend their world title in Poland in July -- losing in the semifinals to Rego's former partner Santos and Alvaro Morais Filho -- but they had plenty of support from the home fans.

Rego even has his own fan club in Poznan, having been a yearly visitor to the East European country since 2004.

"They came yelling ... very, very loud -- anyone can hear them: Emanuel! Emanuel! But this is the motivation you have when you come here in Poland," says Rego, who has split with Cerutti until the end of this season so they can respectively train Evandro and Vitor Felipe -- who have already formed a promising partnership.

"I enjoy the Polish people and they enjoy me, so they enjoy beach volleyball -- so we create a good relationship. They cheer for us and I give all that I have to them just to keep this friendship."

It is this passion which has inspired Rego to become one of the most successful players in the history of beach volleyball, and which spurs him on to further glory.

"I've been lucky all these years because this sport is very passionate and I have a lot of passion," he says. "I saw this growing of beach volleyball as a sport, as a style of life. That's why I keep the inspiration to keep playing.

"I'm still in the top of the beach volleyball because I learn how to develop my game every year . Every year I start to learn something new; this is the real development because you need to see where your mistakes to improve.

"Beach volleyball you play every weekend so you have a chance to improve all the time. This is the right path for the young players -- keep continuing the development, keep evolving."

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