Beach Volleyball Junior World Championships review - A Polish and Swiss celebration
With the senior World Championships in Stare Jablonki, Poland in June next year and despite the retirement of some key Swiss players after the London Olympics, both countries should be quietly confident after successful performances at the FIVB Beach Volleyball Junior World Championships this year.
The tournament for players aged under 21 marked a milestone for Switzerland’s Nina Betschart - who looks set to step into the shoes of Simone Kuhn who retired after London 2012 - after becaming only the second woman following Brazil’s Carolina Salgado to win gold in back-to-back years with different partners.
Betschart and Anouk Vergé-Dépré continued Switzerland’s winning streak with a second consecutive gold in the tournament, against Brazil’s Drussyla Costa/Rebecca Silva. After narrowly losing the gold medal match to Ukraine in 2011, the Polish duo of Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak took home the top prize in this year’s junior men’s competition in their final match against Switzerland’s Mirco Gerson/Gabriel Kissling.For Kantor/Losiak, who are both 20 years old, this year’s championship was their last appearance on the junior circuit. As they ease into the professional FIVB World Tour it is clear that the Polish pair’s athletic prowess and skill will hold them in good stead as they start a new chapter in their career.
This year’s competition featured a high number of young international players with impressive resumes.
On the men’s side, competitors included Brazil’s Marcus Carvalhaes, who won the bronze medal at the 2011 tournament with Vitor Felipe, Canada’s Garrett May and new teammate Dallas Keith, the sixth-seeded team in Halifax, as well as Aaron Nusbaum and Grant O’Gorman, who won the bronze medal at the 2011 FIVB Youth World Championship in Umag, Croatia.
Some of the top women’s entries included USA's Summer Ross, who by winning gold in both the Junior and Youth World Championships in 2010 is the only player in FIVB history to pull off a double victory.
The competition also saw Canada's Melissa Humana-Paredas (who claimed silver with Victoria Altomare in 2011)/Taylor Pischke and Germany’s Christine Aulenbrock (who won women’s gold at the 2009 FIVB Youth World Championships)/Kim Behrens finish fifth. They were joined by Russia’s Ekaterina Karapischenko and Ksenia Dabizha, both veteran international players despite being just 18 and 19 respectively.
Other experienced female players included Poland’s Katarzyna Kociolek, who won the gold medal (Umag, Croatia) in 2011 and the silver medal (Larnaka, Cyprus) with Karolina Baran.
That the future looks bright for many of the medallists is hardly surprising given that this is where the likes of Brazilians Juliana Felibserta Da Silva, Pedro Cunha and Pedro Salgado, and the Netherlands' Marleen Van Iersel, all made names for themselves before joining the ranks of the world’s top players.
In this year’s competition there were 27 men’s teams and 29 women’s competing for the top three spots, with the final four teams all from the European continent.
And such is the success of the event at this level, the FIVB has introduced an Under 23 World Championships in 2013. It all adds to providing a superb launch pad for amny of tomorrow's stars.