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Phuket friendship produces coaching role

Artem Yarzutkin (pictured) and Oleg Stoyanovskiy won their first match Tuesday in the Rio Grand Slam qualifier as the 19-year old Russians are benefitting from the coaching from Estonian Olympian Rivo Vesik.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 8, 2016 - A renewal of a friendship four years after the Beijing 2008 Summer Games has Rivo Vesik back on the sands of the FIVB World Tour, but this time the Estonian beach volleyball Olympian is coaching an up-and-coming team from Russia.

“It is fun coaching,” said the 35-year old Vesik, who played with Kristjan Kais at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.  “In Beijing, I met this Russia man and developed a friendship.  Four years later in Thailand, I met him again and we started playing together in beach volleyball matches for fun in Phuket.”

Quick links
•    Rio Grand Slam website
•    Country quota results - Men
•    Country quota results - Women
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•    Qualification - Women

Vesik’s friend was Vladislav Stoyanovskiy and the relationship has developed to the point where the Estonian is now coaching the Russian’s son (Oleg) and his 19-year old partner Artem Yarzutkin.  For Vesik, the stay in Phukett “was enjoyable and relaxing.  Meeting up with Oleg’s father (Vladislav) was fun as we played on the beach together and enjoyed the setting.”

The coaching from Vesik has paid dividends so far as the 19-year old Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin have earned a FIVB World Tour medal last month at the international stop on Kish Island in Iran.  In 2014, Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin topped the podium at the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games in China.

Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin
Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Artem Yarzutkin pose with their gold medals at the
Nanjing Youth Olympic Games in 2014

The young Russians are playing in the qualifier for this week’s $800,000 Rio Grand Slam event with the hopes of advancing to Wednesday’s “money” rounds where pool play opens Main Draw play with weekend elimination matches leading to Sunday’s medal matches.

Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin, who are seeded second in the men’s Rio Grand Slam qualifier, posted a 2-0 (21-8, 21-15) win in 30 minutes over 31st-seeded Jan Erik Moen and Stian Opsahl of Norway.  The young Russians will face a tougher task to qualify for the Main Draw when they are challenged by 18th-seeded Saymon Barbosa and Gustavo Carvalhaes of Brazil.

The match will be one of those matches of “future” stars as the Brazilians placed third two weeks ago at the FIVB World Tour stop in Maceio.  At last year’s Olympic “test” event on Copacabana, Saymon and Guto also captured the bronze medal where they upset reigning FIVB world champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt in the third-place match.

“I have to warn people that the world tour medal in Iran is only the first step in attaining greatness,” said Vesik, who teamed with Kais to win a gold medal at the June 2007 FIVB World Tour stop in Zagreb, Croatia.  “A lot of people in Russia think that Oleg and Artem should consistently win now on the world tour.  The Iran finish is only part of the journey.  The key now is how to learn from successes and perform under pressure against older and more experienced players.”

Oleg Stoyanovskiy in action at the Kish Island Open

Vesik said the young Russians “have a chance to be a very good team on the FIVB World Tour, but they are still young and learning the game.  They are working very hard to be competitive and if they can continue to improve, they will be a very competitive on international tour.  Oleg has the size (205 cm, 6'9") and Artem has a good defender behind the block.  Success has come quickly, so both young men must now handle the pressure of being competitive with every match.”

The Estonian is still trying to compete for a spot in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games via the European Continental Cup competition that will be held June 22-26 in Stavanger, Norway.  He and Kristo Kollo have been part of an Estonian team that has placed second in two Continental Cup events in Lithuania and Israel.

Rivo Vesik (centre) is coaching Russians
Oleg Stoyanovskiy (left) and Artem Yarzutkin

“I don’t know if I can play in Stavanger due to knee problems,” said Vesik, who has played in 116 FIVB World Tour events with three different partners (Kais, Karl Jaani and Kollo).  “Right now, it is iffy.  I am hoping it will get better to have the opportunity to compete in Rio.”

The $800,000 Rio Grand Slam is the 10th FIVB World Tour event for Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin, who have also participated together in four FIVB youth championships highlighted by the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic gold medal.  In their first-ever world tour event in 2014 at the Moscow Grand Slam, the young Russians lost to American Olympians Phil  Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal 2-0 (21-13, 21-17) in 33 minutes.  In May 2025 again in the Moscow Grand Slam, Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin prevailed 2-0 (21-19, 21-14) in a 34 minutes over the Americans.

“You see, Oleg and Artem have showed improvement with each event,” said Vesik.  “Now, they must handle the expectations and pressure of being successful.  I have cautioned them that there are many steps to success.  It is not one giant leap to greatness.  I told them there is a lot of highs and lows in sport.  The key is handling the extremes and playing up to their potential each time out.  They must learn from their mistakes.”


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