Qualifying for the Paris Olympic Games officially begins Wednesday with the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Elite 16 held in — where else would we have a beach volleyball tournament these days? — Doha, Qatar.

I also provided a primer on how the 2024 Olympic beach volleyball qualifying process works on the SANDCAST YouTube Channel. The most important aspects you need to know are:

  • Olympic qualifying begins Wednesday and will end on June 9, 2024. Typically, Ostrava hosts around that time, so it’s likely that the Ostrava Elite 16 will be the final event of the qualifying process.
  • Olympic rankings are different from your entry rankings (best three out of your previous four), which are different from the World Rankings (best eight from the last 365 days) which are different from the Beach Pro Tour Finals rankings (best eight from the season). The AVP has no bearing on any of those rankings.
  • The Olympic rankings consist of your top 12 finishes throughout the Olympic qualifying period. You never drop a good finish, you can only push bad finishes out with better ones. Volume tends to be the preferred strategy amongst teams on the cusp (see: Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil, 2021).
  • The Olympic Games will be held in Paris, France, for the first time since 1924, on July 26-August 11.

Welcome to 2024 Beach Volleyball Olympicology.

Men’s Olympic Beach predictions

World Championship bid: David Ahman, Jonatan Hellvig, Sweden

French Wild Card: Remi Bassereau, Julien Lyneel, France

NORCECA Continental Bid: Noslen Diaz, Jorge Alayo, Cuba

African Continental Bid: Ainadino Martinho, Jorge Monjane, Mozambique

South American Continental Bid: Marco Grimalt, Esteban Grimalt, Chile, with help from Noe Aravena and Vicente Droguett.

Europe Continental Bid: Marco Krattiger, Florian Breer, Switzerland, with help from Yves Haussener and Quentin Metral.

Asian Continental Bid: Thomas Hodges, Zac Schubert, Australia, with help from Mark Nicolaidis and Izac Carracher.

Anders Mol-Christian Sorum-Olympic beach volleyball
Mol and Sorum celebrate winning Tokyo gold/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

Olympic Rankings bids

  1. Anders Mol, Christian Sorum, Norway
  2. Alex Brouwer, Robert Meeuwsen, Netherlands
  3. Michal Bryl, Bartosz Losiak, Poland
  4. George Wanderley, Andre Loyola, Brazil
  5. Cherif Samba, Ahmed Tijan, Qatar
  6. Ondrej Perusic, David Schweiner, Czech Republic
  7. Paolo Nicolai, Samuele Cottafava, Italy
  8. Stefan Boermans, Matthew Immers/Yorick de Groot, Netherlands
  9. Adrian Carambula, Alex Ranghieri, Italy
  10. Tri Bourne, Chaim Schalk, United States
  11. Renato Lima, Vitor Felipe, Brazil
  12. Clemens Wickler, Nils Ehlers, Germany
  13. Robin Seidl, Philipp Waller, Austria  ** EDIT, FEBRUARY 21: Seidl and Waller split after the first event in Doha, so I’m subbing in Seidl and Moritz Pristauz here instead
  14. Adrian Gavira, Pablo Herrera, Spain
  15. Chris McHugh, Paul Burnett, Australia
  16. Hendrik Mol, Mathias Berntsen, Norway
  17. Miles Partain, Andy Benesh, United States

I’ll try to get ahead of a few inevitable questions and drop a few explainers below.

  • Yes, I’m Team Jump-Set. I’ve been all aboard the Sweden Hype Train since seeing them in person at the Qinzhou Three-Star in 2019 and subsequently prayed I wouldn’t draw them in the qualifier. Their semifinal win over Anders Mol and Christian Sorum at the 2022 European Champs, and then their demolition of Ondrej Perusic and David Schweiner in the finals, was all the evidence I needed to believe they’d win a World Championship sooner rather than later.
  • Initially, I had a second American men’s team coming out of the NORCECA Continental Cup for the first time in history. But I just can’t see it — and don’t want to see it — happening. Picking between Miles Partain and Andy Benesh, Taylor Crabb and Taylor Sander, and Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner, was a coin flip. My reservation towards Partain and Benesh is their delayed start, due to Partain finishing out his junior year at UCLA, and their collective health. Benesh is chronically dealing with ankle and lower back injuries, and Partain sprained his ankle in the Maldives this past fall (not that it impacted him too much; they won gold the next weekend in Dubai). Crabb and Sander have also never lost to Partain, as I was reminded of several times when I chose Partain as the Defender of the Year over Crabb. Brunner, meanwhile, is the best blocker in the country, and blocking is paramount on the Beach Pro Tour, far more valuable overseas than it is on the AVP. Picking between them was a crapshoot, and I’ll openly root for any one of those three teams to qualify.
  • I do not have any Russian teams in the mix. Typically, they’d take two of the 24 spots — Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy won the 2019 World Championships and a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games. At the moment, Russian athletes are not allowed to compete on the Beach Pro Tour, due to the war in Ukraine. Same goes for Belarus, which actually has a very competitive duo in Aliaksandr Dziadkou and Pavel Piatrushka, who would have an outside shot at qualifying, and a 100 percent chance of disrupting the rest of the race. I don’t foresee Putin throwing Ukraine an olive branch anytime soon, so I’m assuming Russia and Belarus won’t be in the running for Paris.
  • Much is still in the air with Brazil. After the retirement of Bruno — to become a lawyer, of all things — the federation is a bit scrambled. Bruno’s former partner, Saymon, has picked up Vinicius, who finished the 2022 season with Evandro, to underwhelming results. We do not yet know where Evandro is going, and the same applies with Alvaro, Alison, Guto, and several others, all of whom will likely be key players in this Olympic race.
  • The Netherlands, which has become, in my mind, the deepest country in the world for the men, is in similarly gray territory. Yorick de Groot, a rising star, missed the entirety of 2022 with a hernia. Stefan Boermans, de Groot’s usual running mate, finished 2022 with Matthew Immers and they were fantastic. I don’t know where Boermans will turn, but I don’t think it really matters, to be honest: I’m predicting he’ll qualify with whomever he plays. Another pair, Steven van de Velde and Christiaan Varenhorst, are also a bit mercurial in their health and partnership status. In regards to The Netherlands and Brazil, then, I’m shooting a bit blind, which obviously will have its impacts.

All of that said, I guarantee these predictions will be 100 percent correct, down to the order in which they’re listed.

David Ahman-Jonatan Hellvig
David Ahman and Jonatan Hellvig are the Kings of the Court/King of the Court photo

Women’s Olympic Beach predictions

World Championship bid: Kelly Cheng, Sara Hughes, United States

French Wild Card: Lezana Placette, Alexia Richard, France

NORCECA Continental Bid: Atenas Gutierrez, Maria Quintero, Mexico

African Continental Bid: Vanessa Muianga, Ana Sinaportar, Mozambique

South American Continental Bid: Ana Gallay, Fernanda Pereyra, Argentina

Europe Continental Bid: Lena Plesiutschnig, Katharina Schutzenhofer, Austria

Asian Continental Bid: Meimei Lin, Xinyi Xia, China

Olympic Rankings bids

  1. Duda, Ana Patricia, Brazil
  2. Barbara, Carol, Brazil
  3. Cinja Tillman, Svenja Muller, Germany
  4. Brandie Wilkerson, Melissa Humana-Paredes, Canada
  5. Katja Stam, Raisa Schoon, Netherlands
  6. Mariafe Artacho, Taliqua Clancy, Australia
  7. Tina Graudina, Anastasija Samoilova, Latvia
  8. Kristen Nuss, Taryn Kloth, United States
  9. Tanja Huberli, Nina Brunner, Switzerland
  10. Anouk Verge-Depre, Joana Heidrich, Switzerland
  11. Marketa Slukova, Helena Havelkova, Czech Republic
  12. Sophie Bukovec, Sarah Pavan, Canada
  13. Julia Sude, Isabel Schneider, Germany
  14. Barbora Hermannova, Marie-Sara Stochlova, Czech Republic
  15. Marta Menegatti, Valentina Gottardi, Italy
  16. Yuan Lvwen, Jie Dong, China
  17. Angela Lobato, Maria Carro, Spain

Again, a few explainers to get ahead of some follow-up FAQs:

  • Let the record show that I had this story drafted before Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes won the Beach Pro Tour finals. I’ve been the conductor of the Hype Train that is their reunion, and I’m sticking by it. Team Chughes 2024.
  • Picking the second American team was easier than I thought it would be. Our women are far more talented than our men, and it’s possible we’ll have five teams finish in the coveted top 17 of the Olympic rankings. That’s a silly amount of talent. But I think Cheng and Hughes, and Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth, have established themselves as operating on a different tier than their fellow Americans. Again, however, similar with the men: Every woman in this race is wildly talented and I’ll root for any of them to qualify.
  • It’s impossible to know what the Chinese Federation will be allowed to do. China has been on again, off again with severe lockdowns that limit travel. The federation is fairly deep in talent, and if all of its teams can travel, I’d expect two to qualify. But I have no idea if they’ll actually be able to play. For now, I have one qualifying on points, another via Continental Cup, but who knows. Weird times.
Kelly Cheng-Sara Hughes
Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes celebrate a point at the Torquay Challenge/Volleyball World photo



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