Bang Saen, Thailand, June 11, 2012 – The Thailand resort city of Bang Saen will host a FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour event from October 23-28 as the 2012 international beach volleyball calendar concludes on Bangsaen Beach with a women’s-only event.
With the men’s season finale earlier in October at a men’s only event in Agadir, Morocco, the women’s schedule concludes with the $190,000 Bangsaen Open in Thailand.
While this will be the first time the event will be held in Bang Saen, it will be the seventh straight year the FIVB SWATCH World Tour has visited Thailand as women only events were held at Karon Beach in Phuket for the previous six years. Olympic medal winners and world champions have won the previous four Phuket events as teams from China and the United States have filled the podium along with pairs from Germany, Russia, Italy and Brazil.
The $190,000 Bangsaen Open will be the last of three women’s only events on the 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour this year as well as being the last event for the women’s season. The first women’s only event was in April in Sanya, China and the second women’s only event of 2012 was in late August and early September in Aland, Finland.
The 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour is offering a total purse of $6.32 million in prize money and features 13 events for each gender, including the 2012 London Olympic Games. There are six single-gender events, three for each gender. The international beach volleyball circuit is visiting 16 sites in 15 countries including four of the five FIVB Confederations.
Thailand’s initial international beach volleyball event was in 2005 for a FIVB Challenger stop in Phuket won by Eiko Koizumi and Shinako Tanaka of Japan as the tournament was established to help promote tourism in the Tsunami-hit areas. China’s Chen Xue and Xi Zhang captured the first Swatch stop in Phuket by defeating compatriots Jia Tian and Jie Wang in 2006 before Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, who placed third in the 2006 Phuket event after losing to Xue and Zhang in the semifinals, earned the top podium position in 2007 by defeating American rivals Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs. Jennifer Kessy and April Ross, the 2009 world champions, captured the next two Phuket gold medals by defeating American rivals in the finals.
In denying a United States Phuket podium sweep in 2009, Maria Bratkova and Evgenia Ukolova became the first Russian women’s team to win a World Tour medal by defeating Americans Lauren Fendrick and Ashley Ivy. In 2010 a returning Kerri Walsh, who had only played one world tour event in Sanya prior to the tournament, claimed her first gold since giving birth at the beginning of 2010 with Nicole Branagh by beating Italy's Valeria Rosso and Marta Menegatti in the Azzuri's first ever final. Meanwhile Brazilian siblings Maria Clara and Carol Salgado scored the bronze.
Last year, China’s Xue/Zhang returned to the top of the podium again by defeating USA’s two-time Phuket champions Kessy/Ross in the gold medal match. Winning the bronze medal in 2011 was Italy’s Menegatti teamed this time with Greta Ciolari.
Officially crowning the 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour champion, the internationally-televised women’s medal matches from the Bangsaen Open will be held on October 28.
In the first six years of FIVB SWATCH World Tour women’s events in Thailand, the United States leads the way with nine medals (four gold, four silver and one bronze) followed by China with four total (two gold, one silver and one bronze), Italy with two (one silver and one bronze) and with one bronze medal each are Brazil, Germany and Russia.