Road to Rio: Copacabana champions collect
The pairs of Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak of Poland and April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States each collected 800 points for topping the Rio Grand Slam podium to improve their standings on the provisional Rio 2016 Olympic Games standings with both teams headed to Vitoria this week for a FIVB World Tour stop at Camburi beach at Avenue Dante Michelini.
The $150,000 Vitória Open for men and women starts Tuesday with qualification with the “money” rounds beginning Wednesday and Thursday with pool play. Elimination bracket play will be Friday and Saturday with the medal matches Sunday. There are 57 men’s teams from 25 countries and 53 women’s pairs from 27 countries in Vitória for the third of four FIVB World Tour stops in Brazil before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
NO. 13 TO NO. 7
Full Provisional Olympic Ranking - Men
For the young Poles, Kantor and Losiak moved from the No. 13 spot on the provisional list to No. 7. The Polish entered the weekend needing to place ninth-or-higher in the Rio Grand Slam to improve their Olympic qualifying total. Mission accomplished as Kantor and Losiak added 560 points by erasing a previous 17th during the qualifying period that started last April in China.
With 4,620 points, Kantor and Losiak rank behind Dutch tandems of Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen (5,820) and Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst (5,160), Americans Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson (4,980), Latvians Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins (4,660), Poland’s Mariusz Prudel/Grzegorz Fijalek (4,720) and Austrians Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst (4,700).
The 15 teams from the international circuit are eligible for Olympic berths provided they completed in a minimum of 12 FIVB World Tour events and/or recognized continental championships from January 2015 through June 13, 2016. There is a maximum of two teams per country that can qualify from the FIVB World Tour for the Olympics.
No Brazilian teams can qualify for the Olympics via the FIVB World Tour as the South American country was assured of two spots due to winning both the men’s and women’s 2015 FIVB World Championships in the Netherlands (Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas) along with a second spot in both gender’s competition due to being the host country (Evandro Goncalves/Pedro Solberg and Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca) for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Full Provisional Olympic Ranking - Women
Ross and Walsh Jennings were on the “outside looking in” on the Olympic provisional list entering the Rio Grand Slam as the United States occupied two spots among the top 15 in the rankings with Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat (4,090) and Emily Day/Jen Kessy (3,860).
With Day and Kessy placing 25th in the Rio Grand Slam they missed an opportunity to improve one of their 12 best finishes, Ross and Walsh Jennings’ gold medal finish on Copacabana Sunday moved the London 2012 Olympic medal winners to No. 13 on the provisional list (3,940 points). However, Ross and Walsh Jennings have only eight Olympic qualifying appearances to date and need four more events to satisfy the participation requirement.
With Ross and Jennings competing in the Vitoria Open this week, the Americans will add at least 120 points to their total. Day and Kessy will need to place ninth or higher in Vitoria to improve their point total. Fendrick and Sweat benefited from their ninth-place finish in Rio to increase their point total by 240 points to 4,330.
CLOSE RACE FOR GERMAN TEAMS
The other big gainer in women’s provisional ranking was Karla Borger and Britta Buthe, who started the Rio Grand Slam as the No. 3 German pair on the list. With a bronze medal finish Sunday on Copacabana, Borger Buthe added 640 points to their total to move ahead of London 2012 Olympians Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler as the No. 2 German pair on the provisional list.
Borger and Buthe now have 4,300 points with the Vitoria Open being their 12th Rio qualifying event, so the German girls will have at least 120 more points when Main Draw play begins Wednesday. Holtwick and Semmler added 60 points to their total in Rio to give them 4,230 points. The pair will have to place ninth or higher in Vitoria to improve their total.
The Vitoria Open will be the 21st of 30 Olympic qualifying events on the FIVB World Tour for men since April 2015 and the 20th of 28 for women. Five pairs for each gender’s Olympic competition will qualify via Continental Cup action where each FIVB confederation is guaranteed a berth in the Rio 2016 Summer Games.
The last qualifying event will be July 6-10 when Russia hosts the FIVB World Continental Cup Olympic Qualification Tournament in Sochi. The top two tandems from each gender from the Continental Cup qualifier will earn the last two pairs in the 24-team Olympic competitions.