The FIVB announced its 2020 beach schedule as the sport goes full bore into Olympic qualifying. With the 2020 Games set for Tokyo starting July 24, just one five-star event will be held in the Olympic qualification period.
There are four five-star events:
Rome (June 10-14)
Gstaad (July 7-12)
Vienna (August 12-16)
Hamburg (August 19-23)
Of the four, Rome will offer the best chance for Olympic underdogs to advance in the provisional Olympic Rankings.
Next year promises many four-star opportunities for Olympic wannabes (nine for women, 10 for men):
Doha (March 9-13), men only
Cancun (March 25-29)
Singapore (April 15-19)
Yangzhou (April 22-26)
Xiamen (April 29-May 3)
Itapema (May 6-10)
Ostrava (May 20-24)
Warsaw (city listed as TBD, May 27-31)
Moscow (June 3-7)
Espinho (July 15-19)
The full FIVB 2020 beach schedule is here.
Of the 10 events, only Espinho is outside the Olympic qualification period. Of note, there is no FIVB event on U.S. soil. Last year’s Edmonton three-star is off the calendar for 2020, making Cancun the only North American four-star opportunity of 2020.
The FIVB’s 2020 schedule allows 11 (10 for women) four-star plus opportunity for Olympic hopefuls, so there will be plenty of jet-setting to pursue Olympic dreams.
The Olympics allow a maximum of two berths per country. On the USA men’s side, it is primarily a three-team race as Trevor Crabb and Tri Bourne are currently ranked 11th with 5,960 points (14 events, 497 average points), followed closely by Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb at 5,760 points (11 events, 524 average points) and Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena at 5,360 points (10 events, 536 average points).
Other USA Olympic contenders include Stafford Slick and Billy Allen (3,640 points, 10 events, 364 average points), Theo Brunner and Reid Priddy (no longer playing together, but they have nine events, 3,180 poiints), Chase Budinger and Casey Patterson (2,600 points, eight events, 325 average points), Bill Kolinske and Miles Evans (2,100 points, eight events, 263 average points), Ryan Doherty and John Hyden (1,940 points, six events, 323 average points).
These contenders need multiple four-plus star medal finishes to vault themselves into contention for 2020.
The Olympic qualifying process requires a minimum of 12 events, leaving the USA men in close proximity once the minimum threshold of events has been met.
On the USA women’s side, April Ross and Alix Klineman have all but locked up their Olympic berth, dominating with 8,760 points (12 events, 730 average points), ranking second in the world to Brazil’s Ana Patricia Silva and Rebecca Cavalcanti’s 8,800 points. Ross and Klineman have the luxury of being able to pick and choose their travel schedule, as it is very unlikely that two other USA teams will generate the top finishes necessary to unseat them.
The second USA berth is up for grabs in the most wide-open race in recent memory. Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat currently lead the standing with 6,900 points (17 events, 575 points average), but are followed closely by Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil with 6,560 points (13 events, 547 points), and Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman at 6,040 points (14 events, 503 average points).
Sara Hughes and Summer Ross lag behind with 4,080 points (eight events, 510 points) because Ross missed a lot of time this summer due an injury, but they could very well jump into the thick of things when the requisite four events are complete.
One thing is certain: The Olympic race will heat up in 2020, keeping the teams’ respective travel agents busy as the USA’s Olympic hopefuls barnstorm around the world.