Qatar’s Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan won the Beach Pro Tour Challenge event in Maldives yesterday. The Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist were dominant in final sweeping past Americans Chase Budinger and Troy Field 21-17, 21-15, in a match they controlled from start to finish.
The podiums finish have been strangely absent for Ahmed and Cherif. They finished ninth at the World Championships, ninth again in Gstaad – both times they were eliminated by Brazil’s Bruno and Saymon – and fifth in Paris. For four months, they went without a medal, their longest in-season drought since 2019. All of that changed yesterday, when Cherif and Tijan came back to defeat Sweden’s David Ahman and Jonatan Hellvig in the semi-finals 15-21, 21-12, 15-13, then followed it up by knocking off their third American team in four matches.
And while Budinger and Field didn’t win gold, simply making it to the final was no small accomplishment for Americans suffering from an unprecedented shortage of medals. Sunday marked the first day in nearly three years that an American men’s team appeared in the final of a top-tier event – top-tier being four-star and above, and Challenge and above – since Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb won gold at the Chetumal four-star in November of 2019. Their silver is also the first medal won by an American team since Gibb and Crabb’s gold in Mexico.
Sweden, despite a season shortened by injury, has had no such shortage of success this year. The bronze won by Ahman and Hellvig, defeating Ukraine’s Sergiy Popov and Eduard Reznik, is their second medal on the Beach Pro Tour this season, to go along with victories at the European Championship and U22 European Championship.
Ahmed and Cherif will next be seen in action two Dubai Challenge events on the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour next week. The eighth challenge tournament of the inaugural Beach Pro Tour season will take place from October 22-25 at the Kite Beach in Dubai. A second tournament of the same category will be held in Dubai from October 27-30.
Former World No 1 Cherif and Ahmed, currently eighth in the World Ranking, will be the top-seeded team in the men’s main draw. Second in the entry list are Norway’s Mathias Berntsen and Hendrik Mol.
After finishing Agadir Challenge runners-up in July, they will be aiming at their second Beach Pro Tour podium.
Qatar’s Cherif Younousse (left) and Ahmed Tijan celebrate with the trophies after winning the Beach Pro Tour Challenge event in Male, Maldives, yesterday.