BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Australia’s quest to qualify men’s and women’s beach volleyball teams for next year’s Olympics has received a major boost, with Volleyball Australia selected to host the Asian Continental qualifiers.
The Asian Volleyball Confederation confirmed this week Australia would host the continental qualifier in June next year.
Volleyball Australia CEO, Mat Meriaux, said the decision to award Australia hosting rights is a fantastic opportunity.
“In recent years we have attracted enormous praise after hosting major international beach and indoor volleyball tournaments,” Mr Meriaux said.
“We are incredibly excited to be given the honour of hosting this major event, a major stepping stone on the Road to Rio 2016.”
Mr Meriaux said he expects plenty of interest from major Australian beaches to host the qualifier, with the possibility the sport may return to Sydney’s Bondi Beach for the first time since the 2000 Olympics.
“This will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase an Australian beach throughout Asia and to the rest of the world,” Mr Meriaux said.
“We expect there will be considerable media interest in televising this event, and a great opportunity to show off the exciting sport of beach volleyball.
“And while it is still early days, the potential to once again host a major event at Bondi, the home of so many fantastic memories for our sport, would be incredibly special.”
Australia’s only Olympic gold medal success in beach volleyball came in Sydney in 2000, when Kerri Pottharst and Natalie Cook thrilled crowds at Bondi.
Australia is hoping to qualify two men’s and two women’s teams for Brazil. One team can qualify with a top 15 World Tour position, and one other can qualify through the Asian qualifier.
Australia’s leading women’s team, Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy, are currently ranked fifth on the World Tour, while the leading men’s team of Isaac Kapa and Chris McHugh are currently ranked 24th.
Australia failed to qualify a men’s team for the London Olympics, while Becchara Palmer & Louise Bawden, and Natalie Cook & Tamsin Hinchley were the women's representatives at the Games.