FIVB SWATCH Youth World Championships open in Cyprus
Larnaka, Cyprus, July 10, 2012—After staging three FIVB Challenger events (2006, 2007, 2008) Cyprus is again returning to the world stage as Larnaka in the popular tourist destination is hosting the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH Youth World Championships for players under the age of 19. This year’s 11th annual double-gender event will be held Wednesday through Saturday in a special purpose-built complex featuring the stadium center court at Finikoudes Beach.
Larnaka, a city of 72,000 located on the Southern Coast of Cyprus and third largest city in the island country in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Larnaka is the second largest commercial port on the island nation and a very important tourist destination.
“These events have been critical to create a new generation of Beach Volleyball athletes,” said Dr. Ary Graca, President the FIVB Beach Volleyball Commission. “In a few years, these players will challenge for FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour medals and vie for berths in future Olympic Games. The winners of these events will also be rewarded by the FIVB and the respective organizers with wild cards and free transportation to take part in the main draw of a FIVB SWATCH World Tour event in 2012 or 2013.”
Gathered in Larnaka as qualifiers for this year’s event are 80 teams (40 men and 40 women) from 36 countries with 32 in each gender in the main draw and eight as reserve teams. Using a new format this year, the competition will start with a 32-team main draw field in each gender with teams split into six pools of four teams each to play a round-robin phase on Wednesday and Thursday. The top three finishers in each pool (24 teams) will then advance to the single-elimination bracket phase that will begin on Friday afternoon. The medal matches for each gender will be held on Saturday evening at the Finikoudes center court.
Countries represented in Larnaka for the 11th anniversary of this event are Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Niger, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Peru, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, and the United States.
At last year’s FIVB SWATCH Youth World Championships in Umag, Croatia, a pair of Polish teams, Lukasz Kaczmarek/Macjej Kosiak and Karolina Baran/Katarzyna Kociolek won their respective gold medals to help Poland increase their overall event-leading country medal count. Poland joins Germany (2003 in Pattaya, Thailand) as the only countries to capture the gold medal in both genders in the same year in the event’s first decade.
Poland’s 2011 women’s champions, Baran/Kociolek, are back to defend their title and Poland’s Lukasz Kaczmarek returns but his teammate this year will be Sebastian Kaczmarek (no relation). Overall, among the women’s field five teams and six other individuals return from last year’s field in Umag and for the men, one team and six other individual players from last year are in this year’s field in Larnaka.
As the host country, Cyprus has two men and two women’s teams pre-seeded into the main draw pool play phase. Competing for the men will be Minos Agathokleous/Panagiotis Michael and Kirill Rudenko/Konstantinos Yiannakkos. For the women, in action at Finikoudes beach will be Mary Nehmeh/Anthi Paria and Antonia Theoti/Zoi Konstantopoulou.
While the Brazilian men and women have dominated the FIVB U-21 competition with 19 medals combined, the U-18/19 championships has seen the medal and “final four” count distributed among 21 countries as compared to 20 nations for the junior event. The German men and women have combined to capture five U18/19 gold medals as Christine Aulenbrock and Victoria Bieneck topped the women’s podium in 2009 at Alanya, Turkey. Overall, Germany has 13 combined U18/19 medals(four men and nine women) and 15 “final four” finishes. Poland ranks second with 10 medals (seven men and three women) and is tied with Germany with 15 “final four” placements. The Netherlands is only other country with multi-U18/19 world titles with a pair of women’s gold medals in 2002 and 2007.
Now a regular team on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour, the Polish team of Michal Kadziola and Jakub Szalankiewicz gave their country its lead on the men’s medal list by capturing the 2007 U-19 title. Estonia claimed its first junior/youth world championship medal in 2008 as the men’s team of Kristo Kollo and Oliver Venno claimed the title. Ukraine became the 10th country to win a youth world championship gold medal as the men’s team of Sergiy Popov and Valeriy Samoday topped the Alanya podium in 2009. Poland returned to the top of the podium again in 2010 in Porto, Portugal with the gold medal victory by Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak.
After finishing fifth in Alanya in 2009, the United States tandem of Jane Croson/Summer Ross captured the gold medal in 2010 in Porto. It was the first women’s medal for the USA in this event. Ross capped her successful summer of 2010 by becoming the first person to win both the youth and junior world championships in the same year. In Alanya, Turkey, she won the gold medal with Tara Roenicke.
Germany, which was denied a women’s podium placement for the first-time in event history in 2007 (and again in 2010 and 2011), rebounded in 2008 as Chantal Laboureur and Levke Spinger won the gold medal followed by Christine Aulenbrock and Victoria Bieneck’s title in 2009. The Netherland’s Danielle Remmers and Michelle Stiekema claimed the 2007 title as the Dutch team of Sanne Keizer and Arjanne Stevens won the first-ever women’s gold medal when the competition was for players under the age of 18. The age for the competition was changed in 2005 for players under the age of 19.
FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH Youth World Championships - Final Four Placements (thru 2011)
Gold Silver Bronze Medals 4ths Final 4s
Gold Silver Bronze Medals 4ths Final 4s
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