As the FIVB’s Continental Cup competition wrapped-up today, five countries notched spots for beach volleyball at the London Olympics.
Through this weekend’s events, only two more men’s and women’s London Olympics berths, out of the 24 total spots per gender, remain up for grabs.
The Continental Cup series, a set of five continental zone competitions, was newly introduced for the London Olympics as a way for smaller countries to better contend for Olympic glory.
Since its start on the spring of 2010, over 150 countries have battled to reach this final stage today – where the winning nation qualifies a beach volleyball team for London.
While the winners for two of the five zones have already been decided, several countries within the European, Asian, and NORCECA (North/Central America, Caribbean) zones battled each other this past week.
Arising as zonal winners today were men from Norway, Japan, and Canada, as well as women from Russia, Australia and Canada.
For some elite athletes, who just missed the 16-team Olympic qualification for the London Olympics via competing in FIVB events, these wins were especially heartfelt.
The resilient Norwegian men’s team of Tarjei Skarlund and Martin Spinnangr, cast aside their disappointing 17th place FIVB standing, and helped their country defeat two tandems from the Netherlands.
“You need to be tough in this game. This gives us even more confidence for the Olympics,” said Spinnagr in a FIVB press release.
Similarly, the determined Australians Natalie Cook and Tamsin Hinchley also rebounded from their own setback. Finishing just outside of the sweet sixteen in the FIVB rankings, they partnered with another Aussie duo to overtake the Chinese teams.
These winning nation’s federations will soon decide which team will represent their nation at the London Olympics. And if the sentimental favorite, two-time Olympic medalist Cook, is selected, she will have qualified for her fifth Summer Olympics in this sport.
For those countries which finished second and third in the five continental zones, they have just one last chance to punch a ticket to London. In the FIVB World Cup Olympic Qualification Championships, to be held later this week in Moscow, Russia, the top two men’s and women’s teams will earn a berth for their countries.
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