Lausanne, Switzerland, May 6, 2012 – Led by defending champions Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego of Brazil and USA’s Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh, the road to the 2012 London Olympic games returns to the site of the 2008 Beijing Olympics for the second straight year of the US$600,000 Beijing Grand Slam, fourth event on the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour for both men and women.
With the first battle gaining more momentum for spots in the London Olympics, USA’s reigning Olympic champions Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers and May-Treanor/Walsh are leading their respective genders back to Beijing’s Olympic Stadium for the second of an FIVB-record eight grand slam events on the 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour.
The women will be completing three consecutive events in China while it will be the second straight week for the men to be competing in China after last week’s Shanghai Grand Slam. In Beijing, the women’s competition will begin Monday with country quota playoffs while the men’s country quota playoffs will be held on Tuesday. With $43,500 awarded to each gold medal winning team, the women’s final will be held on Saturday (May 12) and the men on Sunday (May 13).
All three podium finishers in each gender from last are returning to Beijing for this week’s grand slam. For the men also in China besides Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel are last year’s silver medal winners Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann of Germany and Switzerland’s Jefferson Bellaguarda/Patrick Heuscher. While the other teams are in tact, Brink is scheduled to play this year’s tournament with Sebastian Fuchs.
Joining USA’s defending champions May-Treanor/Walsh on the women’s side will be last year’s silver medal winners Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler of Germany and USA’s bronze medalists Jennifer Kessy/April Ross.
Leading the other women’s challengers for a spot on the podium will be China’s Chen Xue/Xi Zhang, bronze medalists at the 2008 Beijing Olympics who have started this year by winning two of the first three events (Brasilia and Shanghai) and earning a bronze in the other (Sanya). A very close second to Xue/Zhang in this year’s women’s point standings, Brazil’s Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes come to Beijing with three podium finishes this year as well, (silver in Brasilia and Shanghai and gold in Sanya).
Among the other top men’s teams expected to be in the medal hunt in Beijing are two top Brazilian team’s—Marcio Araujo/Pedro Salgado and Pedro Cunha/Ricardo Santos along with Spain’s Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera. After a bronze medal in Shanghai last week, Marcio/Salgado are leading the FIVB SWATCH World Tour point standings while Cunha/Ricardo are tied for second with USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers who after Shanghai have won both events they have entered this year. Gavira/Herrera are back from injury and are fourth in season points.
Beijing beach history
Following last week’s stop in Shanghai, China has now staged 14 men’s and 22 women’s FIVB SWATCH World Tour events. In Beijing, the only two other FIVB events held were the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and last year’s world tour event.
Road to London
With the Shanghai event third event for each gender on the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour calendar, the road to the 2012 London Olympic Games has resumed as 16 of the 24 teams in each gender will be determined through year-long Olympic rankings on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour. The Beijing event will be the first of nine double-gender events on the 2012 world tour schedule. Beach Volleyball at the London Olympic Games will run from July 28 to August 9. The 24 teams for each gender going to London will be announced on July 9 and the drawing of lots for pool assignments will be held on July 19 in Klagenfurt, Austria, during the A1 Grand Slam event.
FIVB SWATCH World Tour schedule
After the Beijing stop, the 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour continues with one bye week for men’s competition before a men’s event in Prague, Czech Republic (May 22-27) while the women will have two weeks off. Both genders will return to action together June 6-12 for Moscow Grand Slam prior to the Rome Grand Slam (June 12-17) which will be the final world tour qualifying event for the 2012 London Olympic Games.