Olympians supercharge continental qualifiers for Beach Volleyball World Championships

Lausanne, Switzerland, June 7, 2017 - With the clock ticking down to the first serve for the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in two months, the field continues to be finalized for one of the sport’s most prestigious events to take place July 28 through August 6 in Vienna on Danube Island featuring 48 pairs per gender vying for $1-million in prize purse.

With 21 countries determined earlier Wednesday on the entry list via host country and FIVB World Tour entry points berths (Men / Women), the international federation certified another 19 countries here on Wednesday afternoon via the confederation qualifying process for the 11th edition of the FIVB World Championships. The final three berths via wild card per gender will be announced before the end of the week.

Qualification process - Continental qualifiers - Men

Qualification process - Continental qualifiers - Women

The 19 countries added to the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship list via continental qualifying were Belgium, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Paraguay, Qatar, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela.

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The 21 countries certified earlier on Wednesday via FIVB World Tour entry points and host country designation were Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, the Ukraine and the United States.

Kerri Walsh Jennings will play with Nicole Branagh

From the 20 teams that qualified for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via the confederation process, three pairs and 10 players have competed in past Olympics led by Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States. A three-time Olympic and world champion, Walsh Jennings will be playing with 2008 Olympian Nicole Branagh after securing one of the four NORCECA nominations for the Vienna event.  The United States will now have four women’s teams in the field.

The Walsh-Jennings/Branagh partnership is not new, but the two women have not played together since 2012 when the pair placed ninth at an event in Stare Jablonki, Poland.  Overall, Branagh and Walsh Jennings have played in four FIVB World Tour events starting with a first-place finish at the 2008 Dubai Open followed by a fifth and first at 2010 stops China (Sanya) and Thailand (Phukett), respectively.

Rio 2016 Olympics men’s pairs qualifying for the World Championships via the continental process are Markus Bockermann/Lars Fluggen of Germany (CEV) and Jefferson Santos Pereira/Cherif Younousse of Qatar (AVC). Women continental qualifiers with Rio experience are Natalia Alfaro/Karen Cope Charles of Costa Rica (NORCECA).

Jefferson Santos Pereira and Cherif Younousse will represent Qatar

Two-time Polish Olympic Mariusz Prudel also gained a 2017 world championship berth after qualifying with Kujawiak Kacper. Grzegorz Fijalek, Prudel's partner at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games, will also be competing in Vienna with Michal Bryl as one of the three Polish pairs in the men’s competition.

Chen Xue, who captured the 2013 women’s World Championship with Xi Zhang in Stare Jablonki, returns to the 2017 with XinXin Wang as the second Chinese team. Xue and Zhang advanced to the final four at both the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games with third- and fourth-place finishes, respectively.

Other women’s players with Olympic experience that qualified for the 2017 FIVB World Championships via the continental process are Australian Nicole Laird (AVC with partner Jessyka Ngauamo), Italian Marta Menegatti (CEV with Rebecca Perry) and Venezuelan Norisbeth Agudo (CSV with Gabriela "Gabi" Brito).

Three Russian women with Olympic experience also gained 2017 World Championship berths via the European confederation. Two of the Summer Games players will be competing together in Vienna - Anastasia Barsuk/Evgeniya Ukolova. Ekaterina Birlova, who teamed with Ukolova at both London and Rio Olympics, will be playing with Nadezda Makroguzova in the Austrian capital.

Here is the complete list of countries (players) gaining berths in the FIVB World Championships via confederation qualifying:

•    African (CAVB)- Morocco (Mohamed Abicha/Zouheir Elgraoui), Mozambique (Aldevino Nguvo/Justino Tovela), Sierra Leone (Patrick Lombie/Abu Bakarr Kamara) and South Africa (Leo Williams/Jamaine Naidoo)
•    Asian (AVC) - Australia (Christopher McHugh/Damien Schumann), Indonesia (Ade "Candra" Rachmawan/Mohammad Ashfiya), Iran (Rahman Raoufi/Bahman Salemiinjehboroun) and Qatar (Jefferson Santos Pereira/Cherif Younousse)
•    European (CEV) - Belgium (Dries Koekelkoren/Tom van Walle Belgium), Germany (Markus Bockermann/Lars Fluggen), Latvia (Rihards Finsters/Edgars Tocs) and Poland (Kacper Kujawiak/Mariusz Prudel)
•    North, Central America and Caribbean (NORCECA) – Canada (Aaron Nusbaum/Ryan Vandenburg), Guatemala (Leonardo Blanco/Luis Garcia Betencourt) Trinidad & Tobago (Daniel William/Kareem Thomas) and Cuba (Daisel Quesada/Karell Pina).
•    South American (CSV) - Argentina (Julian Azaad/Nicolás Capogrosso), Paraguay (Roger Battilana/Gregorio Godoy), Uruguay (Marco Cairus/Mauricio Vieyto) and Venezuela (Carlos "Charly" Rangel/Jhonatan Golindano)

Entries by country - Men

•    African (CAVB)- Kenya (Makokha Gaudencia/Naomie Too), Morocco (Mahassine Siad/Imane Zeroual), Mozambique (Liocadia Manhica/Vanessa Muianga) and Rwanda (Charlotte Nzayisenga/Denise Mutatsimpundu)
•    Asian (AVC)- Australia (Nicole Laird/Jessyka Ngauamo), China (Chen Xue/XinXinWang), Kazakhstan (Tatyana Mashkova/Bakhtygul Samalikova) and Thailand (Varapatsorn Radarong/Tanarattha Udomchavee)
•    European (CEV) - Germany (Nadja Glenzke/Julia Grossner), Italy (Marta Menegatti/Rebecca Perry) and Russia (Anastasia Barsuk/Evgeniya Ukolova and Ekaterina Birlova/Nadezda Makroguzova)
•    North, Central America and Caribbean (NORCECA) - Canada (Julie Gordon/Camille Saxton), Costa Rica (Natalia Alfaro/Karen Cope Charles), Cuba (Lidiannis Echeverria/Leila Martinez) and United States (Nicole Branagh/Kerri Walsh Jennings)
•    South American (CSV) - Argentina (Jimena Martinez/Estefania Milesi), Columbia (Andrea Galindo/Claudia "Gorda" Galindo), Paraguay (Gabriela Filippo/Erika Mongelos) and Venezuela (Gabriela "Gabi" Brito/Norisbeth Agudo)

Entries by country - Women

With Austria hosting the prestigious event for the second-time, the 2017 FIVB World Championships will be held at the state-of-the art Vienna Centre Court at Donauinsel with the focal point of the action and entertainment being held with a picturesque view of the Danube River and the lively atmosphere of the Beach Village.

As the Austrian capital will be staging its first-ever international Beach Volleyball event, the European country has been a fixture on the FIVB World Tour in Klagenfurt where the 2001 world championships where held as pairs from Argentina and Brazil topped the podium.  Overall, Klagenfurt staged 18 men's and 14 women's FIVB World Tour stops the past three decades.


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