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Maria Tsiartsiani makes a comeback, aims for Olympic qualification

Maria Tsiartsiani and Vicky Arvaniti are taking aim at the upcoming qualifications for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Athens, Greece, May 23, 2014 – With more than a year of absence in the beach volleyball scene, Greece’s Maria Tsiartsiani reunites with former partner Vicky Arvaniti – a comeback plan that is geared towards making it through to the 2014-2016 CEV Beach Volleyball Continental Cup event in Schinias, Greece, on June 21 and 22 of this year.

After taking seventh place in Thailand at the Bangsaen Open in October 2012, Tsiartsiani withdrew from the beach volleyball tournaments for treatment of a shoulder injury. In the months after her withdrawal, she gave birth to her first child – her daughter Sophia – who is now seven months old.

Almost twenty months after her last appearance on the international beach volleyball circuit Tsiartsiani is back in action as Greece’s coach Kostas Tampouratzis put her name on the national squad roster for the start of qualifications for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

“As I stated last year, my priority at that time was my daughter and my health,” said the 34-year-old Tsiartsiani. “As time went by and as my daughter is growing up, I felt the desire to get back on the sand. And since the doctors reassured me that my shoulder is OK, I wanted to try again. It’s a strange feeling. Everything looks familiar but at the same time everything seems so new.”

“For twenty months, my life was in totally different route but I really have the desire to get back into the court, to start practicing and play on a high level,” Tsiartsiani explained. “Personally, I am curious if I will be able to get back on the same level as I used to be, but with Vicky’s help, I think I can do it. At least I will give it a try.”

Tsiartsiani and Arvaniti have been a pair in beach volleyball since 2009, but in their reunion they will have a third person on their team.

“Sophia will be our mascot, our lucky charm,” said Arvaniti who is thrilled with the return of Tsiartsiani.  “I felt the same way as our first day as a pair back in 2009, I am really happy that she is back.  We know each other very well, for sure she is going to need some time to get back in full shape.”

This year Arvaniti will end her partnership with Penny Karagkouni, a team that won the silver medal at the Mediterranean Games in Mersin, Turkey, and ranked 5th at the 2013 CEV Beach Volleyball European Championship Final in Klagenfurt. Karagkouni’s new partner will be Evi Christou.

“It was a good experience playing with Penny, and I believe that I helped her with my experience,” said Arvaniti. “I think after the return of Maria we have two good pairs that can compete on a high level.”

If everything works according to plan, the pair Tsiartsiani/Arvaniti will have the chance to play in the Continental Cup which provides an opportunity for countries to obtain quota places to the Olympic Games.

The CEV Beach Volleyball Continental Cup consists of three phases. The first phase will have two rounds and are scheduled to be played in 2014. The second phase will have another two rounds and are scheduled to be played in 2015, and the final phase will include the semifinal and final rounds, scheduled to be played in 2016. The winners of the Continental Cup will qualify to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

There will be a second opportunity to qualify to the Olympic Games through the Intercontinental Final Round which will also take place in 2016.

here for more detailed info on the 2014-2016 CEV Beach Volleyball Continental Cup.


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