World's best arriving in Rome for 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Championships
Rome, Italy, June 12, 2011 — From the long to the short of it, from the youngest to the oldest, from rookies to 18-year veterans, from Olympians and world champions to siblings playing together and separately and husbands and their wives competing, this week’s $1m FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Championships presented by smart features the world’s top 96 teams from 34 countries. The eighth event under the current format is being held for the first time in Rome through next Sunday. The internationally-televised eighth FIVB Swatch World Championships will feature 48 teams in each gender competing on purpose-built sand courts at the historic Parco del Foro Italico in the heart of the Eternal City.
Led by reigning champions Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann of Germany and Jennifer Kessy/April Ross of the United States as well as several other former champions, the FIVB’s premier beach volleyball event outside of the Olympic Games is set to enthral once again with the world’s best players visiting the Italian capital Rome from June 13-19.
Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers will lead the men’s competition having won nine gold medals on the 2010 FIVB Swatch World Tour and two in 2011 before losing to Brazil’s Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego in Prague and retiring because of a Dalhausser injury in Beijing last week. They are also the 2008 Olympic and the 2007 FIVB world championships.
While all eyes will be on Juliana Felibersta Silva and Larissa Franca from Brazil and USA’s Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh for the honours in the women’s competition. Juliana and Larissa beat May-Treanor and Walsh at the opening tournament of the year in Brasilia after not playing each other since June 14, 2008, to claim their sixth title in seven FIVB Swatch World Tour events. For May-Treanor and Walsh it was their first tournament since they won the 2008 Beijing Olympics for their second Olympic gold medal.
With both genders competing on each of the seven-day championships, the event begins with 12 pools of four teams in each playing the other three teams in their respective pools. The top two teams from each pool along with the best eight third place teams will advance to the 32-team single-elimination phase of the tournament. Pool play matches for each gender will be held Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday followed by the 32-team elimination rounds on Thursday and Friday. The semifinals will be held on Saturday evening, June 18 with the medal matches set for Sunday evening, June 19.
Following preliminary inquiries and technical meetings for both genders on Sunday, round-robin pool play competition is scheduled to begin Monday at the Foro Italico starting at 11:30 a.m. from women and 1 p.m. for men.
Teams are in Rome following last week’s $600,000 Beijing Grand Slam held at the 2008 Olympic venue. Winning the men’s gold medal for the second straight event was Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel while topping the women’s podium was May-Treanor and Walsh. The veteran Emanuel has now earned 71 career FIVB gold medals. May-Treanor/Walsh have now won 36 FIVB gold medals together, Walsh has won 40 overall and May-Treanor 39 in her career. May-Treanor/Walsh have won three world championships (2003, 2005 and 2007) and where not playing in 2009 when compatriots Kessy/Ross earned the gold medal in Stavanger, Norway.
The 32-year-old Walsh, a mother of two young boys, is pleased with her team’s comeback. “I work very hard and I had a lot of support. And I have an amazing partner” said Walsh after their Beijing gold medal performance. “I have an amazing husband (world championship entry Casey Jennings) and I want this very badly. This is my dream to be a mother and to be competing in the sport I love. When you have a big dream, you’ll do everything to make it happen.”
Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2011 presenting international beach volleyball events, the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball, based in Lausanne, Switzerland returns for the third consecutive season to Rome and the FIVB Swatch World Tour has had at least one event in Italy since 1989 except for 1993, 1994 and 2002. The FIVB Swatch World Championships at the Parco del Foro Italico will mark the 17th time a men’s event has been held in Italy and the 10th time for the women. Built on the grounds of the Stadio Olympico from the 1960 Rome Olympics, the magnificent Parco del Foro Italico is a major international tennis and sports complex being converted for use as a beach volleyball complex for the FIVB Swatch World Championships. The venue, artistically designed and completed in stages between 1928 and 1938, will have five competition courts with the featured center court being in the 10,000-seat main tennis stadium at the Foro Italico.
The previous FIVB Swatch World Championships in the current format were held in Los Angeles (1997), Marseille, France (1999), Klagenfurt, Austria (2001), Rio de Janeiro (2003), Berlin (2005), Gstaad, Switzerland (2007) and Stavanger, Norway (2009). The first FIVB World Championships were held in Brazil in 1987, prior to the start of the current format that began in 1997.
Over 32 percent of the players (31 men and 31 women) competing in the FIVB Swatch World Championships 2011 will be competing in their first-ever world championship.
The FIVB Swatch World Championships 2011 will feature five teams as “family” acts. The “Sister Acts” will be the Austrian Schwaigers, the Brazilian Salgados and the Finnish Nystrom twins. The “Brother Act” will be the French Ces and Italian Ingrossos. Here is a list of the top “Brother and Sister Acts” in FIVB Swatch World Tour history. The Lacigas (2000, 2004), the Yanchulovas (2000, 2004), the Schwaigers (2008) and the Hamiltons (1996) have competed together in the Olympics.
• HUSBANDS & WIVES - The FIVB Swatch World Championships 2011 will again feature husband/wife competitions, including two-time American Olympic gold medal winner Kerri Walsh and her husband Casey Jennings (married in December 2005). Harley Marques (Brazil) and Cristine "Saka" Santanna (Georgia), who were married in November 2007, will be competing for two different countries. All four have competed in previous world championships with Harley capturing the silver medal in 2009 with Alison Cerutti while Jennings was ninth with Matt Fuerbringer. Saka was 17th and ninth in the 2007 and 2009 world championships, respectively with Andrezza "Rtvelo" Martins.
The 2011 calendar features 15 women's and 14 men's events within all five FIVB confederations plus one special 24-team single-gender women’s test event held August 9-14 at London’s Horse Guards Parade, the venue for beach volleyball at the 2012 London Olympic Games. The 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour is offering $7.64-million in prize money. Twelve of the tournaments are combined men's and women's events, including the World Championships and all six Grand Slam stops.
After the FIVB Swatch World Championships, the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour takes one week off before it continues with three consecutive Grand Slam double-gender events: June 27 to July 3 in Stavanger, Norway (ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011), July 4-9 in Gstaad, Switzerland (1 to 1 Energy Grand Slam) and July 11-16 in Moscow (Moscow Grand Slam). The total prize money for each Grand Slam event is US$600,000. Also on the international calendar during this window and immediately following the FIVB Swatch World Championships will be the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Youth World Championships, for players under 19 years old, June 21-26 in Umag, Croatia.