FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour

Cincinnati Open | 17 - 21 May 2016


Press release

Mexico’s Ontiveros/Virgen seeking Rio berth

Mexico's Lombardo Ontiveros stretches way out to pass the Mikasa to Juan Virgen, hoping to become first Mexican men's team in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, finished ninth in this week's FIVB Cincinnati Open after winning their pool 3-0

Mason, Ohio, USA, May 20, 2016 – A little more than three years ago, Lombardo Ontiveros was out of beach volleyball, turning his focus to coaching high school sports in Mazatlan, Mexico.

Today, he and Juan Virgen are on the verge of becoming the second men's team from Mexico to qualify for the Olympic Beach Volleyball competition since the introduction of the event at the Atlanta 1996 Summer Games.

Ontiveros and Virgen decided to head back to the beach with a goal in mind, the reach the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and become the second team from Mexico to reach an Olympiad in beach volleyball. They’re not there yet, but they’re as close as they can be.

“I was totally retired 3 1/ 2 years ago,” Ontiveros said. “I was working, teaching sports in high school. And now I’m here trying to get a place in the Olympics. It’s crazy, man.”

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They entered the FIVB Cincinnati Open, presented by the AVP, as the last team in on the Olympic provisional rankings. They can secure a spot by piling up enough points to be included in the top 15 in the rankings.

No, really, Mexico. A country that prefers to play its sports on grass, not sand.

“Volleyball and Beach volleyball are about ninth or 10th place (in popularity),” Ontiveros said. “We are trying to do something about it. We want to do our best to give back to the people who support us.

“It means a lot, not only for us, it’s for all the people that support us. That would be special for us if we could qualify for Rio. There are still two Grand Slams and we’ll see what happens. If we can make it to Rio and do a special job there, we can make a lot for beach volleyball and volleyball in Mexico.”

They’ve already done their fair share. Just this season, they have captured bronze medals in Fortaleza, Brazil and Xiamen, China after taking a silver in Antalya, Turkey in October.

They also captured the gold medal in the Pan Am Games in Toronto last year by avenging their only loss of the tournament against Vitor Felipe and Alvaro Filho of Brazil. Along the way, they defeated Canadians Josh Binstock and Sam Schachter, the top seeds in that tournament who are likely Olympic participants.

On the 2016 FIVB World Tour, they have a 39-17 match record.

They missed out on No. 40 in the elimination round in the FIVB Cincinnati Open when Ontiveros foot-faulted on match point against Americans Tri Bourne and John Hyden. It took him a good 15 minutes to collect himself, but he managed to keep it in perspective as just another trial and tribulation the team will have endure on their journey.

“It’s a lot of pressure, sometimes (bad) things happen but we try to stay focused to keep all our concentration to manage the pressure,’ Ontiveros said. “It’s more pressure right now but that’s part of it.”

He admits that a foot fault called on match point was a new one for him.

“I don’t know what to think right now. I feel like an idiot,” he said, laughing. “I don’t know. It was crazy. But it was a good call.”

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