Shanghai, China, 30 April, 2012 - The 2012 FIVB Swatch World Tour steps up the pace with the first Grand Slam tournament of the Olympic year at the Shanghai Grand Slam presented by Jinshan Xinchen.
After Open tournaments in Brasilia and Sanya for the women the Shanghai Grand Slam signals the first of eight Grand Slam tournaments in 2012.
Defending champions Marlene Van Iersel and Sanne Keizer from the Netherlands will defend their title, while silver medallists Jennifer Kessy and April Ross and bronze medal winners Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger are also back competing at the City Beach Volleyball Centre.
However, all eyes will be on local favourites Xi Zhang and Chen Xue. The pair have already tasted success so far in 2012 by winning gold in Brasilia and bronze in Sanya.
Brazil meanwhile have a new pair making names for themselves. Talita and Antonelli have begun 2012 in great form and took the silver in Brazil and gold in Sanya.
Their compatriots and 2011 world champions Larissa and Juliana will be sure to put up a strong challenge, as will defending Olympic champions Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh.
Both sides will be out to build momentum ahead of the biggest prize in beach volleyball – the Olympic title that will be decided at London’s Horse Guard’s parade later in the year.
The 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour runs over a seven month period and features 12 tournaments for both men and women. For the women the season stars in April in Brazil and ends in October in Thailand.
The US$600,000 Shanghai Grand Slam is the second of nine double gender events and the winners share a $43,500 purse.
It is the eighth straight year in which Shanghai has hosted a women’s FIVB SWATCH World Tour event and the final takes place on 5 May.
Following the completion of the Shanghai Grand Slam the World Tour moves onto to China’s capital for the Beijing Grand Slam from 7-12 May.