Swiss Olympic race still open after hectic Ostrava qualifier

Swiss Olympic race still open after hectic Ostrava qualifier
Fecha de publicación: 
6 June 2024
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Wednesday’s qualifier of the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Ostrava Elite16 provided answers to all but one of the questions asked ahead of the tournament regarding qualification for the Paris Olympics as after the first day of action at the Lower Vitkovice industrial heritage site, just a single spot continues undetermined.

The domestic battles between Dutch and American men and German women now have their winners determined and the last spots in Paris 2024 via the FIVB Olympic Rankings were also taken, but the dramatic duel between the Swiss Vergé-Dépré sisters Anouk and Zoé and their respective partners for a berth in the Games will continue during the week.

The two Swiss duos met in the second round of the qualifier in Ostrava and Zoé and partner Esmée Böbner would have booked their tickets to Paris with a victory, but they saw Anouk and Joana Mäder come from behind to win 2-1 (18-21, 21-16, 15-10), eliminating their compatriots and advancing to the main draw.

The Tokyo Olympic bronze medalists have 7,580 Olympic Ranking points and still trail their compatriots, who have 7,900, but will now have an opportunity to pass them in Ostrava and make their second Olympic appearance together. To do that, Mäder and Vergé-Dépré will need to advance to the semifinals this week.

As with the Swiss, the decision regarding the second Olympic berth for Germany’s women’s teams also had a direct battle between the two contenders in the qualifier, with Laura Ludwig and Louisa Lippmann beating Karla Borger and Sandra Ittlinger 2-0 (21-14, 24-22) to secure their spot in the Games. It will be the fifth Olympic appearance for Ludwig, a Rio 2016 Olympic champion, and the first for Lippmann, who starred in the country’s volleyball national team from 2014 to 2021 before switching to the sand.

Besides the domestic battles, the Ostrava qualifier also settled the race for the final spot among the women. The only team that could still enter the qualification zone in the event, Canadians Heather Bansley and Sophie Bukovec fell to Brazilians Hegeile ‘Hegê’ Santos and Vitoria Rodrigues 2-1 (21-19, 18-21, 16-14) in the first round and didn’t add any points in Czechia.

With that, Spain’s Liliana Fernández/Paula Soria, Lithuania’s Monika Paulikiene/Aine Raupelyte and France’s Lézana Placette/Alexia Richard, who could be passed by the Canadians this week, confirmed their presence in Paris. The 37-year-old Liliana is the only Olympic veteran among the six and is now set to make her fourth appearance in the Games.

Besides the Swiss, also advanced from the qualifier in Ostrava Ludwig/Lippman, Paulikiene/Raupelyte and USA's Kimberly Hildreth/Teegan Van Gunst.
Budinger and Evans triumph in the American race

Former NBA star Chase Budinger and partner Miles Evans confirmed their presence in Paris as the second American team qualified after their competitors Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner fell to Germans Lukas Pfretzschner and Sven Winter 2-1 (21-13, 24-26, 15-12) in the qualifier. It will be the first Olympics for both Budinger, who began his beach volleyball career in 2018, and Evans, who started playing internationally that same year.

The Dutch race also came to an end at the Ostrava qualifier when Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medalists Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen, who had been running third among the teams in the country, dropped their match to Poland’s Piotr Kantor and Jakub Zdybek 2-1 (15-21, 21-17, 15-11). With that, Stefan Boermans/Yorick de Groot and Matthew Immers/Steven van de Velde both qualified and will make their first Olympic appearances.

Austria confirmed their return to the Olympics after missing out on the Tokyo Games with Julian Hörl and Alexander Horst claiming the last men’s spot in play through the Olympic Rankings. The two were competing neck and neck with Chile’s Marco and Esteban Grimalt, but the South American cousins couldn’t make it out of the Ostrava qualifier, losing to Dutch Leon Luini and Christiaan Varenhorst 2-1 (21-19, 17-21, 15-10) in the first round, and saw their chances of passing the Austrians get extinguished.

“Getting to represent Austria at the Olympics for the fourth time makes me emotional,” said the 41-year-old Horst. “My kids are a little bit older now and will be able to join me in Paris. I’m so happy for Julian because he put much of his heart and soul into this qualification. And I have to thank the national team coaches too, as they believed I could represent Austria at the highest level despite my age.”

The four men’s teams that advanced from the Ostrava qualifier were Kantor/Zdybek, Pfretzschner/Winter, Luini/Varenhorst and France’s Youssef Krou/Arnaud Gauthier-Rat.

Teams not yet qualified for the Paris Games coming from countries that still don’t have the maximum two spots per gender filled will have a final opportunity to earn a berth at the continental qualifiers, which will be held later this month, offering one spot per gender per continent at the upcoming Olympics.

The Ostrava Elite16 continues to progress on Thursday, with the first day of main draw action. Pool play remain on until Friday, with the elimination rounds beginning on Saturday and the semifinals and medal matches taking place on Sunday.

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