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Brazil volleyball star Castro to play in new US pro league

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Three-time Brazilian Olympian Sheilla Castro is coming out of retirement to play in a new U.S. professional volleyball league early next year.

She also hopes to make another Olympic team after already capturing two gold medals during a decorated career.

At 37, Castro will be the oldest player so far to commit to playing — and she would be 38 for next summer’s Tokyo Olympics if chosen for the Brazilian national team. Castro captured Olympic gold with Brazil at the 2008 Beijing Games and again in 2012 at London.

“For sure, my daughters watching the Olympic Games, it’s a really good inspiration but Olympic Games doesn’t take a lot of (extra) inspiration,” Castro said during a video call Wednesday. “I think every player dreams to go to the Olympic Games and if I can go to my fourth Olympic Games it would be amazing — and if Brazil can win one more time it’s better for sure.”

Castro, who welcomed twins in November 2018, will join U.S. stars like Jordan Larson playing in the new league.

Athletes Unlimited, in partnership with USA Volleyball, announced in April its plans for a six-week indoor league to begin play in February.

Players will help govern the league, which won’t conflict with the Americans’ preparations ahead of the 2021 Games. It will feature an innovative format without general managers or owners. Four captains will choose their teams one week then a points system from that week will determine the captains for the next week of competition.

“It was a hard decision in the beginning before I knew a little bit more about Athletes Unlimited,” she said. “After I started to know everything it was a really easy decision. I think I can do a good preparation for the Olympics. I will be with good players, with Jordan, I’m really happy to play with her. I’m really happy to be a part of this and I will help for sure to grow this league in the U.S.”

Athletes Unlimited also started a pro softball league that completed its first season in late August.

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