All eyes on local heroes as World Championships draw closer
Poland's Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel are the host nations leading hopes for a World Championships medal|
Stare Jablonki, Poland, June 26, 2013 – With the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships set to start on Monday local fans are turning their attention to the Polish men’s teams and their hopes of seeing one of them finish on the podium.
Long-time Polish number ones Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel lead their hopes and start their campaign for a World Championships medal in a pool with Australians Isaac Kapa and Christopher McHugh, Chileans Esteban and Marco Grimalt and Spain’s Inocencio Lario and Javier Montfort.
This season Fijalek and Prudel have been consistent on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour and won bronze medals at The Hague Grand Slam for their best result of the season so far. Elsewhere they have regularly reached the quarterfinals, as they did at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“We do not know what to expect of these teams,” Fijalek said. “Lario has a new partner, and the duo Grimalt and Grimalt are rarely seen in tournaments. The Australians may be the most dangerous because they have recently beaten our friends from the national team, Michal Kadziola and Jakub Szalankiewicz.”
Poland’s number two side Kadziola and Szalankiewicz have a relatively straightforward pool with matches against the up and coming Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands, Venezuela’s Leon Colina and Jackson Henrique, as well as Jan Hadrava and Robert Kufa.
“We’ve played against the Dutch team several times at various tournaments and some games we have won,” Kadziola said. “It does not mean that it will be the same at the World Championships. This season, the Dutch team have made huge progress and we have to be careful about them.
“I have to admit that their results are surprising,” Kadziola about the Czech duo. “They won the group at the Corrientes Grand Slam in Argentina and were the best at the CEV Satellite tournament in Montpellier. They can play volleyball, and Hadrava’s left hand is a real weapon.”
One Polish pair that are no strangers to world title success are Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak. This year they added the inaugural FIVB U23 World Championships gold medal to those they won at U21 and U19 level.
They have also begun to make their mark on the World Tour and recently finished ninth at The Hague, the same place they finished in Stare Jablonki in 2012.
“In my opinion they can win their group but they could also finish in last place as well,” Polish men’s coach Martin Olejnak said. “They will have fewer problems with the Russian pair (Serguei Prokopiev and Yury Bogatov). Their two other matches will be very tough, but I believe in them. I hope that are able to qualify to the next round.”
The fourth Polish team are wildcard pair Damian Wojtasik and Jaroslaw Lech and they have a baptism of fire against defending champions Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego of Brazil, Latvia’s Martins Plavins and Janis Peda as well as Italian twins Matteo and Paolo Ingrosso.
“It's a tough group, but the team ranked 47th cannot expect a weak group,” Olejnak said. “If my guys have a good day, they can beat Plavins and Peda and the Ingrosso brothers. We will see what will happen."
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