By Sports Reporter Doha
Beach volleyball has always been one of the biggest crowd-pullers at any beach sports events and the narrative will doubtlessly remain the same when the maiden edition of the ANOC World Beach Games Qatar 2019 kicks off in Doha on October 12.
The sport, which gained an Olympic status at the 1996 Atlanta Games, has a massive global following and it has continued to draw capacity crowds wherever it is staged anywhere in the world.
For example, the spectacular beach volleyball stadium for the 2012 London Games had a capacity of 15,000, the largest-ever Olympic beach volleyball venue, and a record 14,500 turned out to watch Russia defeat Brazil 3-2 to clinch the gold medal of the men’s event at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre in London while the women’s event witnessed a capacity-filled stadium. The beach volleyball games of the Rio Olympics also recorded an impressive turnouts and it was one of the most attended events of the competition.
Played on a sand court measuring 8m by 8m per side, beach volleyball is a team sport usually played by two teams of two players each but for Qatar 2019, the competition will feature the 4X4 format which consists of four players from each side.
The 4x4 beach volleyball adapts the rules of the two-a-side beach volleyball discipline with changes in the scoring system, team composition, service order, and the addition of substitution and coaching as its general principles.
As in indoor volleyball, the objective of the game is to send the ball over the net and to ground it on the opponent’s side of the court, and to prevent the same effort by the opponent.
Historically, there are reports of men playing volleyball on the beach in Hawaii as early as 1915 but the history of beach volleyball really began and gained momentum in Santa Monica, California in the 1920’s. It was then and there that the first volleyball courts were put up on the beach and families came to play.
The first two men Beach Volleyball tournament was held in Santa Monica, California in 1948 while the first international FIVB-sanctioned tournament was played on Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro in 1987, with a prize purse of US$22,000. It was won by Sinjin Smith and Randy Stoklos.
Beach volleyball, which was given a permanent Olympic status by the IOC in 2001, has continued to witness a surge in popularity globally, with many international competitions organised by the FIVB, the sport’s global governing body, attracting fans in their thousands and record-breaking TV viewership.
Brazil and the USA are the two dominant countries in the sport sharing 20 of the 30 Olympic medals awarded to date between them, and 16 of the 20 gold and silver medals.
For Team Qatar, beach volleyball is one of the sports with its brightest prospect for medals at Qatar 2019, considering the team’s achievement over the years and its reputation as one of the best globally.
Qatar’s beach volleyball team have recorded several successes over the years and they are one of the dominant forces on the continent.
The team first caught the eyes of the world after its representatives, Tiago Santos and Jefferson Pereira, clinched the bronze medal at the 2014 Asian Beach Volleyball Championship in Jinjang, China.
Team Qatar followed up the achievement by making their Olympic debut at the 2016 Rio Games.
The dynamic duo of Ahmed Tijan and Sherif Younis, currently ranked 9th on the FIVB World Rankings, have been the most successful so far.
The team was crowned Asian champions after defeating Iran’s Bahman Salemi and Arash Vakili 2-0 at the 2018 tournament held in Satun, Thailand.
They thereafter successfully defended their title at the 2019 Asian Beach Volleyball Championship in Maoming, China by beating home favourites Gao Peng and Li Yang 2-0 in the epic final.
The team also captured the gold medal at last year’s Asian Games in Indonesia. They also won bronze at the 2019 FIVB World Tour 4-star in Xiamen, China in April and finished fifth at the FIVB World Tour 4-star in Doha in March.
En route their participation at the 2019 FIVB World Beach Volleyball Championships held in Hamburg, Germany, the team claimed the title of the Swiss national Championship after defeating home side Switzerland 2-0 in the final.
ANOC World Beach Games Qatar 2019 presents another opportunity for Team Qatar to make its mark on the global stage and the team is expected to rise to the occasion as glory beckons on home soil.
Beach volleyball 4X4 is one of the 14 sports featuring at the ANOC World Beach Games to be held from October 12 to 16 in Doha. All matches of the sport will be played at the Al Gharafa Stadium.
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