Beach volleyball teams for London confirmed
A total of 48 pairs from 23 countries will attend the Olympics with the event set to be one of the highlights of the tournament, taking place in the historic Horse Guards Parade in the centre of the British capital.
The teams were determined by the National Olympic Committee and national federation of each qualifying country. Qualification for the Games was earned in four different ways:
Olympic Games Qualification Summary (24 vacancies per gender)
A total of 142 countries from around the world took part in qualification, with the debut of the Beach Volleyball Continental Cup and World Olympic Qualification Tournament providing a more global qualifying process.
The drawing of lots for the tournament will take place at the FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH Klagenfurt Grand Slam, set to be held in Austria from July 15 to 22. The schedule for the preliminary round of the tournament will then be confirmed.
Leading the charge in the men’s field will be defending Olympic champions Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser of USA. They will be keen to become the first team to win back-to-back gold medals.
However, world champions Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego of Brazil will pose a sizeable challenge. Emanuel won bronze in Beijing four years’ ago and gold at the Athens 2004 Games with former partner Ricardo Santos, who will also compete, this time alongside Pedro Cunha. For Alison it will be his Olympic Games debut.
A European team has never topped the podium in the men’s event since its inception in 1996, and the favourites to break the duck will be 2009 world champions Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann of Germany. The pair joined forces in 2009 and have never been to an Olympics before, so they will hope their debut is a golden one.
For veteran duo Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil of the Netherlands, it could be a last Games, so they will want to go out on a high. The duo competed in Beijing 2008, finishing fifth, and have seen a spike in performance in recent months, clinching the Beijing Grand Slam and silver at the Moscow Grand Slam.
Poland’s Mariusz Prudel and Grzegorz Fijalek, Venezuela’s Igor Hernandez and Jesus Fane and Great Britain’s Steven Grotowski and John Garcia-Thompson will all represent their countries on the sand for the first time in the men’s tournament.
Prudel/Fijalek qualified through the Olympic Ranking, Hernandez/Fane won the CSV Beach Volleyball Continental Cup and Grotowski/Garcia-Thompson were given the hosts berth.
All eyes will be on Kerri Walsh and Misty-May Treanor of USA in the women’s tournament as they look to become the first duo to “three-peat” and win a hat-trick of gold medals. The pair sealed their first Olympic crown in Athens eight years ago, and followed up with a phenomenal performance at Beijing 2008, clinching the title without dropping a set.
But the duo face a tough task, with a number of top teams having improved in the last two years as they look to topple the golden pair of women’s beach volleyball.
World champions Juliana Felisberta Da Silva and Larissa França of Brazil will be one of the favourites to take the gold medal. The team have won the FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour six times (2005-07 and 2009-11) and the only thing missing from their long list of honours is an Olympic title after Juliana missed the 2008 Games through injury. They will be hoping to correct that in London.
China’s Chen Xue and Zhang Xi also appear to be peaking at the right time having won three gold medals and one bronze already in 2012. They competed in 2008, winning bronze, but with then-silver medallists Tian Jia and Wang Jie now out of the picture, all eyes are on them so they will need to deal with the pressure to improve on their performance in Beijing.
European hopes rest on the likes of Italy’s Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti as well as the Dutch tandem Marleen Van Iersel and Sanne Keizer. Both pairs have noticeably improved over the last 12 months but although full of enthusiasm, this will be all four’s first Olympic Games so their inexperience may count against them.
Australia’s Natalie Cook will make history when she steps onto the court in central London as it will be her fifth Olympic Games. The 37-year-old Brisbane native won bronze at the first ever Olympic Games beach volleyball tournament with Kerri Pottharst and followed up with a gold medal performance in front of her home fans in Sydney. In 2004 she and new partner Nicole Sanderson claimed fourth, missing out on a third medal to USA’s Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs before finishing fifth with Tamsin Hinchley in Beijing. She will again join Hinchley on the sand for what will be her Olympic Games swansong.
Just two countries will be making their debut in the women’s tournament. Argentina’s Maria Virginia Zonta and Ana Gallay came through the CSV Beach Volleyball Continental Cup to book their country a place in London while Mauritius duo Natacha Rigobert and Elodie Li Yuk Lo won the CAVB tournament to seal their spot to the capital.
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