Fiji's beach volleyball looks to emulate rugby's Olympic success
Four men's and three women's teams entered the competition at Smuggler's Cove Resort in Nadi, a surprising 16 years since the country last hosted the event.
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On that occasion, the men's national team won gold and the women's team won silver. According to the Fiji Times, it was also the first time the two-a-side code of the sport was played in Fiji. Previously, a four-a-side version was played.
This time around, the men's national side had to settle for silver after losing to Australia in the final, while the women's team finished with a bronze medal.
"The Oceania Championship was a platform for us to see what needs to be done in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020," Fiji Volleyball Federation President Elesi Ketedromo was quoted as saying by the Fiji Times. "We gauged that our national players need to put in a lot more effort into training if the sport is to be represented in the Olympics."
With less than four years to go for the Tokyo Summer Olympics, Ketedromo said preparations should start now. "There is a lot we need to do and such events enable our national teams to play against high-level teams and also get exposure," she said, adding, "If rugby 7s can achieve a gold medal in Rio, so can we."
She commended the support rendered by the Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee during the Oceania championship.
"It shows that we have the same dream and that is to take beach volleyball to the next level and find elite athletes to do just that," Ketedromo said. FASANOC will be assisting the FVF in preparation for next year’s Mini Games and also the Commonwealth Games.
Ketedromo revealed that there would be a beach volleyball pro-tour next January and dates were being finalized: "In order to find the best athletes to represent Fiji, we need these events to try and identify quality players. We also need to expose our players, so having them travel abroad for competitions and championships is one of the areas we will be looking at."