OLYMPIC AND WORLD CHAMPIONS WILL DESCEND ON TORQUAY FOR THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD BEACH VOLLEYFEST
Olympic and World Champions will be competing at the Great Ocean Road Beach Volleyfest alongside 21 Australian Teams, as entries for the Volleyworld Beach Pro Tour Elite16 and Challenge events have been confirmed.
Australian fans will have the unique opportunity to watch in action both reigning men’s and women’s world champions, with Norwegian Olympic gold medallists Anders Mol & Christian Sorum, and Brazilians Duda & Ana Patricia taking the top seeds in the Elite16 competition – the highest level event on the Beach Pro Tour – which runs from 29 Nov – 3 Dec.
Anders Mol and Christian Sorum have been dominating the international beach volleyball scene over the last few years and are currently ranked as world no. 1. They won the World Championship title in Rome earlier this year after winning Olympic gold at the Tokyo Games and are the favourites in Torquay. Tough competition will come from the other tournament top seeds, including no. 2 Germans Nils Ehlers & Clemens Wickler, no. 3 Swedes David Åhman & Jonatan Hellvig, and no. 4 Cherif Younousse & Ahmed Tijan of Qatar, currently the sixth best ranked team in the world.
Australia has two teams in the Elite16 men’s main draw, with Tokyo Olympians and Birmingham Commonwealth Games champions Chris McHugh and Paul Burnett seeded at no.8 and Izac Carracher and Mark Nicolaidis, who placed eighth at this year’s World Championships, at no. 12. Three more Australian teams including the pair of Thomas Hodges & Zachery Schubert and young duos James Takken & Solomon Bushby and Joshua Howat & Jack Pearse will go through the qualifying round, trying to claim a spot in the pool stages.
Aussie Olympic silver medalists Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy are seeded at no.2 in the Elite16 women’s main draw, behind the Brazilian world champions Duda and Ana Patricia. The biggest threats to the favourites will come from two American teams – Sara Hughes & Kelly Cheng and Kristen Nuss & Taryn Kloth – and from Germans Julia Sude and Isabel Schneider.
Artacho del Solar and Clancy are not the only Australian team in the Elite16 women’s main draw, with the pair of Rio Olympian Nikki Laird and Alisha Stevens seeded at no. 12. Another Aussie team, Georgia Johnson and Jasmine Fleming will be going through the qualifiers.
Entries for the Volleyworld Beach Pro Tour Challenge tournament (23 Nov – 27 Nov) have also been confirmed, with many of the Elite16 teams competing for ranking points and the prize money on offer in the Beach Volleyfest opening event as well.
Aussies McHugh and Burnett are seeded no. 2 in the Challenge event behind Åhman/Hellvig, with Carracher/Nicolaidis, Hodges/Schubert and Takken/Bushby also seeded in the men’s main draw. Stevens/Laird and Johnson/Fleming will be playing in the women’s main draw, while the other 14 Aussie teams will have to go through qualification, nine in the men’s tournament and five in the women’s.
A full list of the teams participating in the Elite16 and Challenge events during the Great Ocean Road Beach Volleyfest is available on the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour.