Beach Volleyball

Dutch Olympic race closer than even after Espinho Elite16

Road to Paris

Article Wed, May 29 2024
Author: Guilherme Torres

Few things will be more important in international beach volleyball in the next two weeks than qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympics. The race to be a part of sports’ greatest event is always fascinating and generates endless interesting storylines involving the top teams in the world. We will be following the Olympic qualification process throughout the entire period and will also present some articles that will help you understand how it works and introduce you to some of the stars of the sport who will be chasing something special on their Road to Paris.

Immers and van de Velde now have the lead over the two other Dutch teams that are also trying to qualify (Photo: Volleyball World)

The race for the Paris Olympics continues wide open for the three Dutch men’s beach volleyball teams in contention following last week’s Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Elite16 event in Espinho, Portugal, and, with just two tournaments left in the qualification period, it’s impossible to predict which will be the two teams to represent the country at the French capital in two months.

Matthew Immers and Steven van de Velde were definitely the biggest winners of the event held at the Praia da Baía as they started the week ranked second among the Dutch teams and ended it in first place, but with the three teams all within 420 points of distance in the FIVB Olympic Rankings, anything can happen until the June 9 deadline.

The rankings, which will determine 17 of the 24 teams that will compete in this year’s Paris Olympics, are formed by the total points earned by teams considering their best 12 results in international and continental tournaments played until June 9, 2024, when the 17 best-ranked men’s and women’s teams will secure a spot in the Games.

Immers and van de Velde finished fourth in the Elite16 event and added 500 points to their total in a critical moment, going up to 8,880 and passing veterans Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen (8,600), who lost in the qualifier, to now appear in ninth place. Stefan Boermans and Yorick de Groot, who missed some tournaments in the qualification period and have just 11 results accounted for, had a big opportunity to take the lead in the country’s internal race, but couldn’t make it out of their pool and collected just 460 points, appearing now with 8,460.

FIVB Men’s Olympic Rankings

The two teams that played in the Espinho Elite16 gold medal match also gained points this week, with champions David Åhman and Jonatan Hellvig of Sweden now virtually guaranteed in first place until the end of the qualification period with 12,420 points and runners-up Nils Ehlers and Clemens Wickler of Germany coming up in fourth with 10,340.

Poland’s Michal Bryl/Bartosz Losiak (seventh – 9,200) and Italy’s Italy’s Paolo Nicolai/Samuele Cottafava (eighth – 8,940) also appear inside the Olympic Rankings top ten, while Spain’s Pablo Herrera/Adrián Gavira (13th – 8,080), Italy’s Alex Ranghieri/Adrian Carambula (14th – 7,840) and Austria’s Julian Hörl/Alexander Horst (16th – 7,260) all remain inside the qualification zone.

On the women’s side, the Swiss internal battle had interesting developments too, with the two teams that fight for the country’s second spot at the Games meeting in the qualifier. Tokyo Olympic bronze medalists Joana Mäder and Anouk Vergé-Dépré eliminated rivals Esmée Böbner and Zoé Vergé-Dépré, but weren’t able to catch them at 11th place in the Olympic Rankings with their ninth-place finish, managing, however, to cut their lead from 460 to 320 points (7,900 to 7,580).

FIVB Women’s Olympic Rankings

The German internal battle remained unaltered as both Laura Ludwig/Louisa Lippmann (15th - 7,580 points) and Sandra Ittlinger/Karla Borger (7,360) lost in the qualifier, keeping the same points they originally had.

Espinho silver medalists and reigning European champions Nina Brunner and Tanja Hüberli added 640 points with their second-place finish, elevating their total to 9,860, but continue in sixth place. Dutch Katja Stam and Raisa Schoon were third in Portugal and gained one spot in the Olympic Rankings, going from fifth to fourth, with 10,380 points.

Fourth-placed Spanish Daniela Álvarez and Tania Moreno stayed put in 13th place, but earned as many as 440 points with their finish, elevating their total to 7,820 and creating considerable separation from the last teams inside the qualification zone.

Also inside the qualification zone are Latvia’s Tina Graudina/Anastasija Samoilova (eighth – 9,000), Italy’s Marta Menegatti/Valentina Gottardi (ninth - 8,840), Germany’s Cinja Tillmann/Svenja Müller (tenth – 8,620), France’s Lézana Placette/Alexia Richard (15th – 6,920) and Lithuania’s Monika Paulikiene/Aine Raupelyte (16th – 6,900).

The last Challenge tournament and second-to-last overall tournament of the qualification period will take this week in Stare Jablonki, Poland.