Year in Review – Latvian men and women lead way in Tokyo 2020 qualifiers

Lausanne, Switzerland, December 28, 2019 – Two Latvian teams – one men’s and one women’s – secured berths at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo Beach Volleyball Qualification tournament in Haiyang, China from September 18-23. 

Martins Plavins and Edgars Tocs, and Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka earned places for Latvia at the Tokyo 2020 Beach Volleyball tournament. 

Winning teams earn their National Federation/National Olympic Committee (NOC) a place at Tokyo 2020, and it is then up to the NF/NOC to select the teams that take up those berths. 

Tocs and Plavins, who won bronze at London 2012, defeated Russia’s Konstantin Semenov and Ilya Leshukov 2-1 (12-21, 22-20, 15-8), while Graudina and Kravcenoka beat the Czech Republic’s Barbora Hermannova and Marketa Slukova 2-1 (21-17, 15-21, 17-15).  

Graudina and Kravcenoka’s success capped a memorable two months in which qualifying for Tokyo 2020 comes a month after they won the CEV European Championships title. 

“This is such an emotional moment for us,” said the 22-year-old Kravcenoka.  “We hung together despite being down 12-7 in the deciding set. Obviously, this ranks as our greatest moment as beach volleyball players.”

Spain’s Elsa Baquerizo and Liliana Fernandez secured the other women’s spot for Spain. If selected it will be their fourth Olympic Games. 

They took 59 minutes to see off the challenge of Germany’s Sandra Ittlinger and Chantal Laboureur with a 2-1 (18-21, 21-17, 15-10) victory. 

“There were a lot of matches to play again very tough teams,” Liliana said. “We were ranked among the best on the provisional list for Tokyo but securing the berth to next summer's Olympics is great. What a relief and we can relax now for a few months before getting ready for Tokyo.”

Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai have put themselves in position to add to the silver they won at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games by claiming the second men’s berth. 

The Italians, who lost out to Brazil’s Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt at the Copacabana Arena, bettered Rio 2016 bronze medallists Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen 2-0 (21-17, 21-19) in Haiyang. 

“We are thrilled to clinch this berth early as we now can concentrate on Tokyo while competing on the World Tour,” said Nicolai.  “We have played so many matches against the Dutch, so both teams know each other very well.  It was our day and we are so proud to represent Italy again in the Olympics.”


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