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Youth Olympic Games: Beach volleyball set for colourful debut


Lausanne, Switzerland, December 17, 2013 - One thing is already certain: when beach volleyball makes its debut at the 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, it will be a colourful affair.

The United States pairing of Suzanne Muno and Sarah Sponcil, and Canada’s Jake MacNeil and Andrew Richards were the most recent teams to have booked a guaranteed place for their country at the recent qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico.

To date, four of the 36 beach volleyball places up for grabs for both boys and girls at this major sporting event have already been snapped up.

To be eligible for the Youth Olympic Games, athletes must be born between January 1, 1996 and December 31, 1999. The second edition of the Summer Games will be held from August 16 to 28, 2014 in Nanjing, China. The programme will feature 28 sports, including beach volleyball for the first time. Volleyball was present in Singapore in 2010, when Cuba won the boys’ volleyball gold medal over Argentina, while Belgium defeated the United States to clinch the gold medal in the girls’ competition.

“I never thought this was going to be possible,” said Canadian Andrew Richards after securing qualification. “It is like a dream representing our country in the Nanjing Games and I want to give credit to my partner, my coaches and my parents.”

The Canadians clinched the spot for their home country with a thrilling 2-1 (17-21, 26-24, 15-12) victory over United States’ Louis Richards/Torey DeFalco. The result is a prime example of how fierce the competition is for the starting places, and just how important the world’s largest youth sport event is to beach volleyball.

With such high stakes the qualifying tournaments around the world were hard-fought affairs, as one would expect. Each country can take only one place per gender.

Of the 36 tickets up for grabs, 30 are allocated via a qualifying process – each of the five confederations can enter a maximum six teams into the Youth Olympic Games - and five via the Universality Rule. Only China, as the host of the Summer Youth Olympic Games, was guaranteed a starting place from the get go. A further three berths for each gender were also allocated in 2013 – all by the NORCECA confederation.


Qualifying kicked off with the tournament in the Eastern Caribbean Volleyball Association (ECVA) zone. Local girls Dala Noel and Skye Mondesir secured their tickets in St. Lucia, alongside Rodell Fraser and Delshun Welcome of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). The duo made history, ensuring that SVG will be represented in a team sport at the Olympic Games for the first time.

At the second qualifying event in Trinidad and Tobago in November, the hometown duo of Chelsi Ward and Malik Davidson emerged victorious in the girls’ competition, with the Jamaican pair of
Rojey Hutchinson and Shavar Bryan coming out on top in the boys. That was followed by the tournament in Puerto Rico, where USA (girls) and Canada (boys) earned their ticket to Nanjing.

A further place will be allocated at the fourth NORCECA confederation qualifying tournament that will take place in Guatemala from January 30 to February 3, 2014. A deciding tournament, at which the second and third-placed teams from the four NORCECA tournaments will battle for the final two tickets for the Summer Youth Olympic Games, will be held in March.


The teams from Brazil are also on track to earn a place in Nanjing after the opening two qualifying tournaments of the South American confederation (CSV).

The number one beach volleyball nation in the world won both the boys’ and girls’ competitions at the events in Paraguay and Uruguay. The teams from Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay and Ecuador were also on impressive form. A further three tournaments, in Bolivia (April 4 to 6, 2014), Venezuela (April 25 to 27, 2014), Peru (May 2 to 4, 2014) and Argentina (May 16 to 19, 2014), are planned. Countries will earn points based on their final ranking in each tournament. At the end of the four tournaments, the top-six teams qualify for the Youth Olympic Games.


The qualification procedure in the European confederation (CEV) follows a different format. Eight qualifying tournaments per gender were held throughout Europe from June to August. The top two countries at each event progressed to the all-important final tournament, which will take place from May 23 to 25. 16 teams from each gender will go head to head for the six European tickets.

Still in the running for the boys’ places are Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine. In the girls’ competition, Austria, Belarus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine are still in with a shout.


The Asian confederation (AVC) is yet to start its qualifying process. Asia will compete in the Road to Nanjing AVC Beach Volleyball Qualification to Youth Olympic Games tournament between April 1, 2014 and June 8, 2014. The first phase will be pool play, followed by single elimination to determine the six highest-ranked NOCs. The African confederation, CAVB Africa, plans to run qualifying tournaments starting at a zonal level before advancing through to a pool stage. However, the exact dates and system are still to be confirmed. 

The beach volleyball event at the Youth Olympic Games will be held at the Nanjing Youth Olympic Sport Park, alongside a number of other sports including rugby, BMX and hockey. Situated 20 minutes from the centre of the city, construction of the complex is expected to be completed by the end of 2013. Preserving the legacy of the venue for the future development of beach volleyball was also high on the agenda.

The FIVB hopes that this event can create a strong platform to develop youth beach volleyball all over the world, with national federations investing in young athletes in an effort to earn one of the 36 berths to the Games on offer.


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