German gals get game
Nanjing, China, August 12, 2014 - Since initiating world-wide competition for younger Beach Volleyball players in 2001 with the staging of sanctioned championships for the first-time, the FIVB has continued to enhance the program over the years as the 2014 global calendar featured five “major” events for players under the age of 23 highlighted by the Youth Olympics to be held in the coming days in Nanjing, China.
During this period of growth for younger players, the German Volleyball Federation has benefited from the competition where the European nation has taken advantage of the opportunity by amassing seven gold medals, 15 title match appearances, 24 podium placements and 33 “final four” finishes for both genders in the 30 events held to date.
Headlining the German effort in 2014 has been Sarah Schneider and Lisa Arnholdt as the 18-year olds will be competing in the in the 36-team women's competition at the 2014 Youth Olympics where play begins August 17 at the Beach Volleyball Venue of Nanjing Sports Park Complex in Nanjing, China.
“We want to give our best and we will see what we will get out of it,” said Schneider as she and Arnholdt enter the women’s event for the inaugural Beach Volleyball competition at the Youth Olympics as one of the top teams after capturing the silver medal earlier in August at the FIVB under-19 world championships in Porto, Portugal.
“I want to see something of China and the other sports events.” said Schneider, who grew up in Frankenberg/Eder and now lives in Hamburg. “The Youth Olympics is such a huge festival and I am excited to be competing for Germany. Our country will have over 80 people participating in all different sports. Lisa and I are honored to be representing Germany is such a prestigious event.”
With Germany’s history of successes in the FIVB youth world championships, Arnholdt and Schneider will also be seeking to become the country’s fifth women’s teams to capture a gold medal in the junior competition as the international sporting federation has staged youth global events this season in Poland (Myslowice, under-23), Cyprus (Larnaca, under-21), Portugal (Porto, under-19) and Mexico (Acapulco, under-17).
At the under-19 finale in Portugal, Arnholdt and Schneider won eight of nine matches with a perfect 5-0 pool mark. The lone setback was a 2-1 (21-14, 13-21 and 19-17) decision to Andressa Cavalcanti and Eduarda Lisboa of Brazil in the 44-minute championship match in Porto. Enroute to the finals, Arnholdt and Schneider defeated four tandems from Canada, China, Russia and Switzerland that will be competing at the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing.
Initially qualifying for the 2014 Youth Olympics at a May event in Turkey with Leonie Welsch, Schneider said that Arnholdt was named in July as her partner for the Nanjing event before the pair traveled to Portugal at the end of the month to start their successful climb to the Porto podium.
“I qualified with Leonie for Nanjing,” said Schneider, who placed second with Welsch at the 2013 European under-18 continental championships in an event in Belarus. “It was decided that Lisa and I were the best team together, so we switched. Our coaches helped us in making this season. We want to give our best and we will see what we will get out of it.”
After forming their partnership, Schneider and Arnholdt have also competed in three German domestic events against the likes of Beach Volleyball Olympians Laura Ludwig, Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler. “It was a great experience playing against the top German teams that compete on the FIVB World Tour,” said Schneider.
With the Youth Olympics conflicting with the German national championships, Schneider said “nothing is more important than the Youth Olympic Games. This happens only once in my life!”
Maria Kleefisch, who placed second in the 2003 FIVB under-21 world championships in France with German Beach Volleyball Olympian Laura Ludwig, and Silke Lüdike will be coaching Arnholdt and Schneider in Nanjing. The European country will also have Niklas Rudolf and Eric Stadie competing in the men’s Youth Olympic event.
Schneider, who has also been active in tennis and horse riding, started playing Beach Volleyball when she was eight years old. With her success this season by qualifying for the Youth Olympics and placing on the under-19 podium in Porto, Schneider said she “cannot describe her feelings. I woke up each time the next day and recognized that I had done something special.”
As the tallest member of her team (6-foot, 184 cm), Schneider said American Olympic champion Kerri Walsh is her idol and said the “strength” of her game is “passion. I play hard, I am very motivated and I play with humor.”
If past deeds by German Beach Volleyball teams are taken into account, Schneider and her newly-found partner Arnholdt should be chasing history in Nanjing where Beach Volleyball will be held at the Youth Olympics for the first-time.
“It will be a great experience where I will meet a lot of amazing people and compete against the best young athletes in the world,” said Schneider. The Youth Olympics will be amazing. It is the best event in my life. I am very proud that I made it to the Games.”