Europe to be represented by 11 women’s teams in Tokyo


Article Wed, Jun 16 2021
Author: Nikolay Markov
Nikolay Markov

Ten European teams are among the 19 pairs that have already qualified for the women’s Olympic beach volleyball tournament starting next month in Tokyo. With one more to emerge from the upcoming CEV Continental Cup Final in the Netherlands from June 23 through 26, the total number of Europe’s representatives on the Olympic sand will be exactly the same as it was at Rio 2016 in both genders, 13 men’s and 11 women’s duos.

Spain’s Liliana & Elsa celebrate their Olympic qualification in Haiyang (source: fivb.com)

Well-seasoned Spanish pair Liliana Fernаndez & Elsa Baquerizo and rising Latvian stars Anastasija Kravcenoka & Tina Graudina, the 2019 European champions, were the first teams from the continent to book their tickets to Tokyo 2020. They did so by snatching the two berths given away at the Tokyo Beach Volleyball Qualification tournament in Haiyang, China in September 2019.

The other eight European duos qualified through the Olympic Ranking, based on FIVB ranking points earned with a team’s 12 best performances in FIVB events and recognised continental tournaments from September 1, 2018 through June 13, 2021. While none of them finished in the top six of the ranking, Europe is still the continent having snatched over half of the 15 available spots.

Switzerland and Germany are the two European countries that filled up their maximum allowed quota of two qualified teams. Tanja Huberli & Nina Betschart, positioned seventh in the final Olympic Ranking, the highest among all European pairs, and reigning European champs Joana Heidrich & Anouk Verge-Depre will represent Switzerland at the Games.

Switzerland’s Heidrich & Verge-Depre triumph as continental champs in Jurmala

Margareta Kozuch & Laura Ludwig are one of the German duos to compete at Tokyo 2020. Defending Olympic champion Ludwig and her current partner will fly to the Japanese capital, accompanied by compatriots Karla Borger & Julia Sude.

The other four European pairs above the cut-off line in the Olympic Ranking table, in descending order, are Nadezda Makroguzova & Svetlana Kholomina of Russia, Sanne Keizer & Madelein Meppelink of the Netherlands, Barbora Hermannova & Marketa Slukova of Czechia and Marta Menegatti & Viktoria Orsi Toth of Italy.

Czechia’s Marketa Slukova in action (source: volleyballworld.com)

The first women’s duo to claim a berth in the Olympic tournament were Canada’s Sarah Pavan & Melissa Humana-Paredes. They did so in July 2019 as they triumphed with the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship title in Hamburg.

The Canadians also topped the Olympic ranking, on the same amount of points with USA’s Alix Klineman & April Ross, followed by Agatha Bednarczuk & Eduarda Santos Lisboa and Ana Patricia Ramos & Rebecca Cavalcanti, both of Brazil, Taliqua Clancy & Mariafe Artacho of Australia and Sarah Sponcil & Kelly Claes of the United States, in the next four positions. Further down the table, but above the red line, are Canada’s Heather Bansley & Brandie Wilkerson and China’s Fan Wang & Xinyi Xia.

Host country Japan is also entitled to one quota as such and the right to represent it was earned by Miki Ishii & Megumi Murakami, who won the specially organised Olympic trials.

Dutch pair Joy Stubbe & Marleen van Iersel and Slovakia’s Andrea Strbova & Natalia Pridalova are the highest-placed European teams below the cut-off in the ranking. However, with Stubbe expecting a baby, Pleun Ypma will replace her on the home team roster for next week’s Continental Cup Final, while Slovakia did not qualify for the deciding stage of the competition.

Next are Austria’s Katharina Schutzenhofer & Lena Plesiutschnig and Poland’s Kinga Wojtasik & Katarzyna Kociolek, who can be expected to be among the top candidates for the last European ticket in the Hague.