Brazilians and Latvians show their class on the beach in Rio
The Rio 2016 qualification process for beach volleyball got underway on 2-6 September as the FIVB World Tour arrived in the host city to put the Olympic venue at Copacabana through its paces.
The men’s final on 6 September was won by Latvian duo Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins, who defeated Germany’s recently formed pairing of Markus Bockermann and Lars Fluggen with a straight two-set victory (21-15, 25-23). The Latvians heavyweights won back-to-back world titles in 2013 and 2014, but this was their first victory on the tour since May 2014, following a prolonged period beset by injuries.
In the bronze medal match, young Brazilian duo Saymon Barbosa and Gustavo Carvalhaes netted their first ever FIVB World Tour medal by upsetting compatriots Alison and Bruno 2-1 (21-14, 17-21, 15-8).
The men’s tour, and the qualification process for Rio, continues in September with meets in Sochi (RUS) and Xiamen (CHN).
Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca of Brazil
Meanwhile, in the women’s competition, an all-Brazilian final saw Talita and Larissa edge closer to qualification for the 2016 Games by defeating newly-crowned FIVB world champions Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas 2-1 (32-30, 18-21, 15-12) in front of a packed crowed on Copacabana Beach.
In the bronze medal match, Madelein Meppelink and Marleen Van Iersel of the Netherlands took the honours, defeating yet another Brazilian pair Antonelli and Juliana.
All events (except the World Tour Finals) in 2015 up until 13 June 2016 will count towards Olympic qualification, with the top 15 teams of each gender securing places at Rio 2016.