Rome Grand Slam sets lofty aims on way to ‘Wimbledon’ status
Lausanne, June 8, 2012 – Organisers have promised that the growth Rome has enjoyed as a destination on the FIVB SWATCH Beach Volleyball World Tour is set to continue when the 2012 tournament in the Italian capital runs from July 12 to July 17.
Rome became a Grand Slam tournament in 2010 after just one year as an Open competition. Its popularity grew further when it organized a spectacular FIVB Swatch World Championships in 2011.
With crowds flocking to the Foro Italico sports complex, the eternal city provided a splendid backdrop to one of the sporting highlights of 2011. Now tournament director Diego Nepi Molineris wants to make the tournament bigger still.
“Our target is to transform the Foro Italico into the ‘Wimbledon’ of beach volleyball,” he said at the tournament’s launch at the Foro Italico. “This is a very modern discipline and you can see how popular it is as all the tickets for beach volleyball at the London 2012 Olympic Games are already sold out.”
Rome is the last tournament from which World Tour ranking points count towards Olympic qualification and there are high hopes of a local winner in both the men’s and women’s tournaments.
In the women’s competition Marta Menegatti and Greta Cicolari have continued where they left off in 2011 when they won the European Championships and finished third at the final tournament of the year, the Phuket Open in Thailand. They opened this season with third place and the bronze medal at the Brasilia Open, and then improved to silver at the Beijing Grand Slam.
Nicolai Paolo and Daniele Lupo meanwhile have caused a number of upset in the men’s competition this year and finished second in the Beijing and narrowly missed out on bronze at the Silesia Open in Myslowice, Poland.
“The recent growth of beach volleyball is unbelievable and it is becoming one of the most popular sports in the world,” Italian Volleyball Federation president Carlo Magri said. “The organization of beach volleyball events has improved enormously in Italy as has the technical ability of our players.”
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