Rowlandson dreaming of run to Rio sands
Kish Island, Iran, February 16, 2016 – Frenchman Edouard ‘Eddy’ Rowlandson has one dream at the start of the 2016 section of the 2015-16 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour – to secure a place at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games, alongside his partner of four years, Youssef Krou.
Currently the pair are engaged at the Kish Island Open, where they made a solid start with two wins from two to put them in strong contention to go straight to the second, rather than the first elimination round and so play one match less.
Both Rowlandson and Krou began in volleyball before moving to the beach and over the past few seasons they have begun to make their mark. They have already won their first World Tour golds – at the 2014 Xiamen Open – and claimed bronze at the 2014 Qatar Open and 2015 Fuzhou Open.
Currently they are outside the top 17 positions on the FIVB Olympic Rankings that would guarantee a place on Copacabana Beach in August and so would need a few more podium finishes to book their place in Rio.
“We’ll try and qualify through the rankings and then worry about the Continental Cup,” Rowlandson said. “We know if there is one chance in 10,000, there is still one chance and we are going to give 100 per-cent to go and grab these points. Then we have a second chance to qualify from the Continental Cup.
“We had some success at the beginning of our partnership, now we are aiming to qualify for the Olympics. It is going to be another big, big challenge because we definitely need more podium finished in Opens and to improve on our best of fifth place at a Grand Slam.
Crest of a wave
“We’ve been working hard to improve our game and we are confident that we can reach a Grand Slam podium.”
Rowlandson and Krou were bronze medallists at the Fuzhou Open in 2015
France’s men’s volleyball team are riding the crest of a wave having won the 2015 FIVB World League and the European Championship.
Both Rowlandson and Krou know French volleyball very well. Rowlandson was a libero in the French team that won silver at the 2009 European Championship and competed at the Italy 2010, FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship. Krou meanwhile played for Cannes in the French League.
With a father from Brighton in Great Britain he nearly earned a place in the Great Britain team for the London 2012 Olympic Games, but hadn’t completed the two-year stand down period by the time the Games started.
Instead he watched London 2012 as a fan and then made the switch to beach volleyball soon after. It meant he has moved to Montpellier on France’s Mediterranean coast, where the French team is based.
World Tour in France
The 27-year-old has played in Montpellier on three occasions in CEV European Tour events, but has yet to play in France on the World Tour. Paris last hosted a World Tour event in 2009, the final Grand Slam of a four-year cycle and a tournament which Rowlandson attended.
“Playing in Montpellier was special,” he said. “It is the main place for playing beach volleyball in France and the chance for people to come and watch us play. It isn’t easy for us to play in front of people we know and there is a certain extra pressure to cope with.
“We hope they can organise a tournament, be it Open or Grand Slam in the next few years. We need that event to show French people what beach volleyball is.”
An Olympic berth would certainly help strengthen France’s potential for hosting a World Tour event and Rowlandson is in no doubt how much he and Krou playing in the Rio Olympics would mean for beach volleyball in France.
“It would be enormous,” he said. “Olympic Games for any sport are an enormous emotion, you are in front of millions of people and it would be huge in France for the sport and would change everything.”
The Kish Island event is the first of the 11 Open tournaments to be staged by the FIVB in 2016, following on from Open events in Puerto Vallarta, Antalya and Doha in October and November last year, which heralded the start of the 2015-16 season. Qatar will host a second Open event in Doha from April 4 to 8.
The 2015-2016 beach volleyball calendar also includes five Grand Slams, three Major Series stops and the second edition of the Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals. The beach volleyball tournament at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games which will take place on Copacabana Beach will be the highlight of the 2016 calendar.