MEN’S TORQUAY ELITE 16 TO SET UP EXCITING SHOWDOWN ON THE ROAD TO THE BEACH PRO TOUR FINALS
The Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour returns to Australia next week, with some of the best international beach volleyball players battling it out in Torquay, VIC on the last stop on the road to the Beach Pro Tour Finals.
The Elite 16 tournament – the highest level on the Beach Pro Tour – is billed as the main event of the Great Ocean Road Beach Volleyfest, which runs from 23 November to 4 December, with the first leg of the Australian Beach Volleyball Tour also on the program.
The Torquay Elite 16 event starts on Tuesday 29 November and beach volleyball fans are in for a treat as Australian Commonwealth Games gold medalists Chris McHugh and Paul Burnett will take on some of the hottest teams in men’s international beach volleyball. A strong international field includes Swedish rising stars David Åhman & Jonatan Hellvig, and Tokyo Olympic bronze medalists Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan of Qatar.
McHugh and Burnett are seeded at no. 3 and will be taking to the court off the back of their Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) 2022 Asian Senior Men’s Beach Volleyball Championships participation, which marked their return to international competition after their successful Commonwealth Games campaign.
The Torquay Elite 16 event is the last on the calendar before the inaugural Beach Pro Tour Finals, to be held in Doha (26-29 January 2023). Åhman and Hellvig will have extra motivation to improve their position in the FIVB world rankings, already their highest ever at no. 10, as only the top-eight ranked teams per gender, plus two wild cards, will qualify for the Finals. The Swedes will also be keen to cap a fantastic season that saw them make the podium at all of their last four international appearances, including a silver-medal performance at the Elite 16 in Cape Town and a gold medal at the European Championships in Munich, defeating Norwegian Olympic and World Champions Anders Mol and Christian Sorum.
McHugh and Burnett already faced the Swedish team in Türkiye, last May, narrowly losing to them in the final to claim a silver at the Kuşadası Challenge event.
Former FIVB world ranking leaders Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan are also among the contenders for the title in Torquay. The Qatari duo currently sit at no. 4 in the FIVB rankings, after their bronze-medal performance at the Cape Town Elite 16 event showed their game is getting closer to the level it was on display at the Tokyo Olympic Games last year.
Two more Aussies teams are seeded in the men’s main draw, with the pairs of Thomas Hodges & Zachery Schubert and Izac Carracher & Mark Nicolaidis seeded at no. 9 and no. 10 respectively. The young Beach Volleyroos teams of James Takken & Solomon Bushby and Joshua Howat & Jack Pearse will have to go through the qualification tournament to claim a spot in the main draw.
Tickets for the Great Ocean Road Beach Volleyfest start from $5 and are available at https://beachvolleyfest.com.au/.