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With a little over five weeks to go until the Olympics, the world’s best volleyballers are assembling in Poreč, Croatia with a Swatch Major Series title at stake as well as crucial seedings for the showpiece #event on Copacabana in August.
The Poreč Major, the second of the season, has attracted no fewer than 78 men’s and 57 women’s entries from 34 countries. A fact that guarantees sport of the highest level as well as an Olympic-style atmosphere on the Istrian beach.
The Brazilian armada with five men’s and six women’s teams is led by Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt, and Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca respectively, who topped the qualifying list for the Rio games. They, along with all the other contenders for the medals, will use the opportunity to start their final preparations.
Antunes and Franca defend their title from last year but will again face the strong challenge of Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst. After winning a second successive title at the European Championships, the German girls scooped gold medals at the smart Major Hamburg and at the Grand Slam in Olsztyn, Poland, back to back – the latter against Antunes and Franca in the final.
In the men’s tournament Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen from the Netherlands will try to repeat their success at the Poreč Major last year. In Hamburg, they only lost to Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena of the United States. The 2013 FIVB world champions missed the next #event in Poland but still maintained their position as the most consistent men’s team in the Swatch Major Series with four semifinal appearances in five starts.
The Olsztyn Grand Slam was won by the Latvians Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins. They are yet another team to watch out for. The Poreč Major that attracted 62,000 spectators in 2015, will again offer the best players on the planet, tons of spectacular matches and fantastic entertainment, on and off the beach volleyball courts.
During Tuesday’s press conference, the attendees expressed their excitement about the Poreč Major:
“The teams that are playing here will be competing for gold, silver and bronze in Rio – the players here are at the best in the world!” said the reigning German Olympic world champion Julius Brink at a packed players’ area.
“From the moment I arrived last year I was impressed and while Poreč doesn’t have the history of Klagenfurt it already is competing at the same level,” he continued. “I still feel like a player and I can’t wait to be a part of it again this year. I’m proud to help promote it and help make it even better than last year’s. We hope we can build this #event in Poreč as a monument in our calendar.”
CEO of the Swatch Major Series, Hannes Jagerhofer: “Klagenfurt of course has a long history but Poreč exciting for us and it’s only our second year,” he said. “Why is it so special this year? Well because of the Olympics and in a meeting with NBC they committed to showing ten days of beach volleyball at prime time on the East Coast in American which means beach volleyball will be one of the most watched sports at the Olympics.”
Volleyball star Samanta Fabris also attended the press conference and showed her excitement: “I’m glad to be here and I’m looking forward to playing with the best players in the world – even though I am not used to playing beach volleyball,” said the 24-year-old. “This tournament is one of the most important events in this country. For me it is my first tournament but I hope for us in the future we can come again but this year we will try our best for sure.”
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