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Ivan Zaytsev Italy-min

Zaytsev has been a part of the Italian national team between 2010 and 2022

Italian volleyball star Ivan Zaytsev has decided to put in motion one of his longtime career plans and will spend the next few months playing professional beach volleyball alongside compatriot and fellow Olympic medalist Daniele Lupo.

The two have been training together under the guidance of legendary coach Marco Solustri for the last 20 days and will be together this weekend in a stop of the Italian domestic tour in Caorle.

“I’m excited and confident that we can achieve great things,” Zaytsev said in a press conference on Monday. “We all share the same desire to work hard and have success. We have big things in mind, but we’re very much a work in progress now and will try to accomplish our goals step by step. Our first steps are seeing where we are at during the Italian tour and also understanding how much margin for improvement I have in the sport.”

The 35-year-old Zaytsev and the 33-year-old Lupo, who both won silver medals at the Rio 2016 Olympics (the former in volleyball and the latter in beach volleyball), have also applied for a wild card for the European Championship, which will take place in the Netherlands, in August.

This will not be Zaytsev’s first experience on the sand as between 2008 and 2009 he appeared in seven international tournaments during the summer, taking silver in an FIVB World Tour Challenge event in Chennai, India, with Andrea Tomatis.

Zaytsev could play volleyball next season

The Italian, who spent the last club season with Cucine Lube Civitanova in the SuperLega Credem Banca, has not ended his volleyball career and is open to playing indoors during the winter if interesting offers arrive.

“Right now, I don’t feel that I need to end my volleyball career to pursue this dream, so I’m looking for an interesting offer to play the next two seasons,” he remarked. “If I had retired, I’d definitely have made a big announcement. I’m currently evaluating some offers from Italy and abroad.”

Zaytsev has been one of the greatest Italian players of the last 15 years and has won two Olympic medals (silver in Rio 2016 and bronze in London 2012) with the country’s national team, as well as silver medals at the FIVB World Cup and the European Championship.

His decision to explore the possibility of moving the sand came in a perfect moment for Lupo, who is set to miss the Olympics this year after three consecutive appearances and recently ended his partnership with Enrico Rossi.

“After a particularly difficult period in my career, I feel that this is like a rebirth,” he said. “It has reignited the fire inside me. We have a lot of ambition and from the first days training together, I could see that we could build something big. The next few months will be a test for us, but we’ve both made our minds that we want to play at the highest international level.”