|Termoli, Italy, September 7, 2004 - With 22 countries competing, the third annual FIVB World Championships for players under 18 year old begins here Wednesday on the Rio Vivo Beach with an 11-team Qualification Tournament for the last four berths in the Main Draw.
Teams from Austria, Brazil, Finland, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia and Venezuela are scheduled to compete in the single-elimination qualifier as the event also features women's competition. Men's qualification starts at 11 a.m.
Wednesday's qualifying schedule will be determined after a Tuesday night technical meeting when teams are required to finalize their registration for the event that has been held the last two years in Greece and Thailand.
Twenty (20) tandems have already been placed in the Main Draw that will feature round-robin play of six pools of four teams each. Like the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, the top two teams from each pool will advance to the single-elimination Round of 16 bracket along with the four-best third-place finishers.
In addition to host Italy, other countries with tandems in the Main Draw are Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, San Marino, Spain and the United States.
The first two FIVB U-18 World Championships were held in Xylokastro, Greece (2002) and Pattaya, Thailand (2003) where Brazil's Ian Borges and Pedro Solberg Salgado played in both gold medal matches. Salgado also won the 2003 FIVB U-21 title with Pedro Cunha in France.
The young Brazilians defeated Andreas Gortisanouk and Theodoris Papadimtriou of Greece 21-18 and 22-20 in the 2002 final while Germany's Sebastian Fuchs and Thomas Kaczmarek captured the Thailand gold medal with a 21-19, 23-25 and 18-16 over Borges and Salgado.
The title by Fuchs and Kaczmarek was Germany's second U-18 gold in 2003 as Jana Kohler and Laura Ludwig scored a 21-11 and 32-30 win over Carolina Solberg Salgado (Pedro's sister) and Barbara Figueirado. Germany's Frederike Fischer and Sandra Piasecki also netted the 2003 bronze medal.
Presented by SWATCH, the 2004 FIVB U-18 World Championships will be followed by next week's fourth annual U-21 finale on Porto Santo Island, Portugal's Medeira Archipelago. A gold medallist from the last two U-21 World Championships won SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event titles in 2004.
Spain's Pablo Herrera, the Athens Games silver medallist with Javier Bosma, won the 2002 U-21 title with Raul Mesa and a SWATCH stop this past May in China with Bosma. Cunha, who also won the 2001 U-21 title, won the June's FIVB World Tour event in Puerto Rico with Pará Ferreira. Cunha and and Adriano Fonseca dropped the 2002 title U-21 match to Herrera and Mesa.