2018-08-14 02:27:00 CEST
Here are ten contenders for the gold medal of the World Tour Finals
Anders Mol/Chrstian Sørum, Norway
Mol and Sørum enter the Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals presented by Vodafone looking for a fourth straight title to add to their victories at the Gstaad and Vienna Majors and the European Championships. Qualifying via their international ranking, the Beach Volley Vikings have won all of their last 19 matches and, at 22 and 21, respectively, could become the youngest duo to ever win the Finals in their first-ever appearance in the event. The Norwegians have been competing together in the World Tour since 2016 and have a won silver medal – also won this year, in the four-star event in Itapema - as well as their back-to-back golds in Gstaad and Vienna.
Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen, the Netherlands
It has been over three years since Brouwer and Meeuwsen won their only gold medal in a Beach Major Series event, but they are certainly still one of the best teams in the world. Their 2018 World Tour season leaves no question about it as the Dutch have won three gold medals so far – in the four-star events in Doha and Huntington Beach and the one-star tournament in Aalsmeer - more than any other team competing in the World Tour. The bronze medalists from the Rio 2016 Olympics, who have played together since 2011, qualified to the World Tour Finals through the world ranking and will play for their first medals in the event after finishing fourth in 2015 and ninth in 2016.
Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak, Poland
Kantor and Losiak are set to make their third-straight appearance at the World Tour Finals as the Polish finished fifth in 2016 and fourth last year. Playing together since 2009, the Europeans have won four medals in four World Tour events in 2018 – gold in Warsaw, silver in the Hague and Ostrava and bronze in Itapema. They were also second in the European Masters, in Pelhrimov. After frustrating ninth and 17th-place finishes in Gstaad and Vienna, Kantor and Losiak will have a great opportunity to finish the season on a high in Hamburg.
Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins, Latvia
Samoilovs and Smedins won medals in four of the last six events they played at, including a gold in the World Tour four-star event in Moscow last weekend. The Latvians, who have shared the same side of the court since 2013, qualified for the World Tour Finals via the international rankings and much of it can be credited to the four medals they won in 2018 – golds in Moscow and Espinho and bronzes in Fort Lauderdale and Warsaw. Samoilovs, a three-time Olympian, and Smedins, a bronze medalist at the London 2012 Games, have also stepped foot in the podium in the European Championships, where they claimed the silver medal. They played in the 2016 World Tour Finals and finished fifth.
Pablo Herrera/Adrián Gavira, Spain
Herrera and Gavira are the longest-lasting team entering the World Tour Finals as they joined forces in 2009 and have been partners in 102 World Tour events. The veterans will play in their third edition of the event, having finished ninth in 2015 and fifth in 2017. Herrera, a silver medalist at the 2004 Athens Olympics, and Gavira qualified through the international ranking after a successful season, which saw they collect three medals in ten World Tour events – gold in Ostrava, silver in Gstaad and bronze in Huntington Beach – besides of a third-place finish at the European Championships.
Martins Plavins/Edgars Tocs, Latvia
Plavins and Tocs formed one of the most surprising teams of the international season in 2018 as the Latvians had a promising start, winning medals in their first three events together – gold in the Hague and silver in Kish Island for the World Tour and bronze in the European Masters in Pelhrimov. Plavins, a bronze medalist of the 2012 London Olympics, and the 29-year-old Tocs qualified to their first Finals via world rankings after playing just 12 tournaments together. It will be the first time has two duos competing in the event.
Grzegorz Fijalek/Michal Bryl, Poland
Fijalek and Bryl, who are in their second season together, had the highest point of their partnership a couple of weeks ago, when they won the silver medal at the Vienna Major. It was the first podium appearance of the duo in 17 World Tour events and with the result they clinched their berth via the international ranking. While the 23-year-old Bryl, an Under-19 and Under-21 world champion, is set to make his first appearance in the World Tour Finals, Fijalek, a 31-year-old two-time Olympian, will compete among the elite for the second time after finishing fifth with former partner Mariusz Prudel in 2016, in what was the last tournament of the team.
Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai, Italy
The Italians are now set to make their third appearance in the tournament after finishing fifth in 2015 and claiming the bronze medal last year. Lupo, 27, and Nicolai, 30, the silver medalists of the Rio 2016 Olympics, played in just seven tournaments on the World Tour this season, the fewest since 2010, and won a silver medal in the Fort Lauderdale Major and a bronze in Gstaad.
Oleg Stoyanovskiy/Igor Velichko, Russia
The 21-year-old Stoyanovskiy and the 23-year-old Velichko are exponents of the new generation of Russian beach volleyball. In just their first season together, the Europeans won a gold (Xiamen), a silver (Doha) and a bronze (Moscow) medal in just nine World Tour tournaments played. The good results were enough for them to qualify for the World Tour Finals for the first time. In 2014, Stoyanovskiy won the gold medal at the Nanjing Youth Olympics with former partner Artem Yarzutkin.
Clemens Wickler/Julius Thole, Germany
Wickler and Thole will the lone representatives of Germany in the World Tour Finals in their home soil of Hamburg. The duo entered the tournament as the highest ranked German team in the men's ranking. Clemens and Julius have enjoyed a very promising first season together, which saw them win a bronze medal in the four-star tournament in Itapema. It will be the first appearance in Final for the team, which topped the podium in the European Challenger event in Goteborg. They are also the last team to beat the Beach Volley Vikings.
For the complete pool play overview, click here.