A combination of hard work and persistence typically leads to good things in life. And that is also true in sport.

At the age of 39, Gattaz rejoined her country’s national team for the first time in eight years ahead of the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Nations League. She had been playing at an extremely high level for several seasons for her club team Itambe Minas, but still hadn't been included in head coach Jose ‘Ze Roberto’ Guimaraes' plans. That is until she was called up again.

“I feel the same way I did when I was first called up,” she told Volleyball World at the start of the team’s preparation for the VNL. “I knew that as each year went by, it was less likely that I’d ever have another chance with the national team. But my main dream is to play in the Olympics and when I realised I was performing well enough to accomplish that, I just went for it. Wearing the national team jersey again has reignited that dream.”

Her performance at the VNL tournament in Rimini, Italy, certainly put the veteran a few steps closer to Tokyo. She was a key player for Brazil and her efforts were rewarded when she was included in the tournament’s Dream Team as one of the Best Middle Blockers.


Carol Gattaz (2) receives a Best Middle Blocker award at the 2021 VNL.

Her contributions to the team convinced Ze Roberto, who called her up for the Tokyo Olympics and turned a dream into reality. It was a dream she had had for 20 years and had almost given up on 13 years ago, when the Brazil coach didn’t include her in the Brazilian roster that won gold at the 2008 Beijing Games.

But destiny was generous to Gattaz. The middle blocker was given an opportunity to compete in Tokyo where she was the oldest player in the event. She celebrated her 40th birthday on court by helping Brazil defeat the Dominican Republic 3-2 in pool play.

“I couldn’t ever have imagined something like this, not even in my childhood dreams,” she said as she left the court. “It’s been wonderful to celebrate my birthday here at the Olympics with my teammates. I truly see it as a gift of God and feel very blessed to have this opportunity. The Olympics are better than I ever dreamed.”

In a repeat of what happened at the VNL earlier in the season, the United States stood in Brazil’s way and stopped them from winning gold. But they didn't stop Gattaz, who once again made it on to the tournament Dream Team. She also made history as the oldest Brazilian woman to return home from the Olympics with a medal around her neck.

“Hopefully that will make people stop doubting older professionals,” she said. “When you get to your 40s or 50s, people act as if you are entering the final stage of your life. I know I already have a long career behind me, but in a certain way, I feel like my life is just starting. I still have a lot of energy and a young spirit, so, to me, age is just a number. One of the nicest things I heard after the Olympics was that people watching our games could see the joy in my eyes. That makes me really proud and for as long as I still have that and my body allows, I’ll keep playing.”