Venezuelan beach volleyball benefits from Igor and Fane’s success story
One of those wins was a stunning 2-0 win over former world and Olympic champion Todd Rogers and his new partner Ryan Doherty. “It was a big achievement for us to win against an Olympic champion like Rogers”, Villafane said.
It was not the first time they beat the American beach volleyball legend though. The Venezuelans defeated Rogers and his former partner Phil Dalhausser last year at the Berlin Grand Slam. “We played him three times now and won twice, and it means a lot to us.”
It did not go unnoticed back home. “Since we beat the USA in our first game, everyone is very excited about it. The national TV called our hotel room for an interview, they asked about our game and we also did an interview online.”
Venezuelan beach volleyball in the lift
Their success at the Olympics in London last year helped the development of beach volleyball in Venezuela a lot. “Since the Olympic Games more and more young people in Venezuela are interested in beach volley”, Hernandez said.
“We got support from the government after the Olympics. Thanks to that we were able to start different projects and encourage young people to play beach volleyball. We organize events for the junior and youth groups now in Venezuela.”
Hernandez is also involved as a coach in beach volleyball and runs a small beach volleyball school. “There is a new, and very talented generation right now in our country that participated this year in the U19 World Championships in Myslowice and the U21 in Umag.”
Their excellent achievements so far at the World Championships will encourage even more kids to engage in beach volleyball. “This is a great chance for us to represent Venezuela again and show our game to the whole world”, Villafane said.
“Of course the Olympic Games is what we dreamed off, but this event is very important as well. And we hope to have a good result here”, Hernandez said.
Sending home Argentina
In qualifying for the knockout rounds they had to sent home fellow South-Americans Pablo Bianchi and Facundo del Conto from Argentina on Thursday. They won the match 2-1 (21-15 19-21 15-11).
“It was a close game. We knew our opponents very well because we played against them many times before in the South-American competitions”, Hernandez said.
Looking back at the pool phase he said: “It was a difficult group, especially with the United States and the Germans. They are all high in the world rankings. For us and for our country it is an excellent result to qualify for the next round. We are feeling proud to play with the best of the world here.”