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Bruno in action during the 2022 FIVB World Championships in Rome

One of the winningest beach volleyball players of the last decade, Brazilian star Bruno Schmidt announced the end of his playing career in an interview with TV Globo on Sunday.

The 36-year-old defender had the highlight of his career in 2016, when alongside former partner Alison Cerutti he won gold at the Rio Olympics in front of his home fans and his family at the Copacabana beach.

With Alison, Bruno also won the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships and another ten of his 15 international beach volleyball gold medals. Nicknamed ‘The Magician’, Bruno also took home several individual awards from the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, including Most Outstanding Player twice (2015, 2016) and Best Defensive Player four times (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016).

“This decision wasn’t made overnight, I’ve been thinking about it for quite some time,” he said. “Since 2018, I’ve noticed that my performance level has dropped; I was nowhere near the player I was in 2016 and that was really difficult to deal with. I strongly considered retiring after the Tokyo Olympics (in 2021), but after having knee surgery I was fortunate to get a very competitive partner (Saymon Barbosa) and decided to try for another year. But in the end, I couldn’t see myself as an elite player anymore, so it was clear it was time.”

Since his split with Alison in 2018, Bruno has played with Pedro Solberg, Evandro Goncalves and Saymon. He won three World Tour medals with Evandro (one gold, one silver, one bronze) and qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, where the two finished ninth, just a few months after he recovered from a severe Covid-19 infection.

A U21 world champion with Pedro in 2006, Bruno represented his country at two editions of the Olympics and at the last six editions of the World Championships.

“As with any career, there were a lot of good things, but also a lot of mistakes,” he said. “But I leave the sport totally satisfied because I gave absolutely everything I had. If my trainer told me to lift 50kgs, I would lift 100kgs. I always went beyond my limits and that obviously has consequences. It was about doing my best, not necessarily winning. If there’s one thing I’ll miss, it is the feeling of making a good play, seeing the hard work pay off and being recognized for it. But I left nothing on the table, I did everything I wanted to do in the sport and that allows me to retire in peace with myself.”

Bruno, who is the nephew of Brazil’s greatest basketball player of all time, Oscar Schmidt, recognizes he’ll always stay connected with the sport in some way.

“Everybody says that deciding to retire is the most difficult decision for an athlete,” he reflected. “But I’d been thinking about it for so long that it actually feels good right now. I’m very comfortable with my decision and I don’t miss all the sacrifices and the pressure I had to deal with when I was playing. But I know that at some point, probably next year during the Olympics, I’ll miss it. I’ll feel like I could be there and I’ll ask myself if I made the right decision, but that’s what I want.”

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Bruno and Alison at the top of the Rio 2016 podium

The Brazilian, who got his law degree last year, will switch his shorts, cap and sunglasses for a suit and start working on his new profession soon. Bruno is expected to take his certification test in February and then start his journey as a lawyer.

“I’ve dedicated more time to law school over the last couple of years and I’m in love with it,” he commented. “That’s also one of the reasons why I decided to end my career now – I need more time and energy to pursue my law career. I'm always looking for a new challenge and this is what will make me wake up early in the mornings from now on.”