Nicolai/Lupo ones to beat in Xiamen
News from the FIVB
Xiamen, China, April 19, 2017. The FIVB World Tour returns to Xiamen for a fifth consecutive year with the double-gender FIVB Xiamen 3-Star event from April 20-23. Eyes will be on Rio Olympic silver medallists Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo from Italy among a strong field of contenders.
Challenging Nicolai/Lupo and making their 2017 debut are Rio 2016 bronze medallists Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen from the Netherlands. Both teams stood on the Xiamen podium in 2013 with Brouwer/Meeuwsen winning silver and Nicolai/Lupo taking bronze.
Just one month prior to Xiamen, the top two positions of the Shepparton podium were taken by Australian men McHugh/Schumann and Durant/Schubert. Isaac Kapa will also be back in action in Xiamen alongside new partner Tim Dickson after becoming established on the World Tour with long-term teammate, McHugh. New partnerships are also seen in Alexander Huber who appears in Xiamen for his first tournament with new partner Lorenz Petutschnig, after teaming with Robert Seidl since 2009. Seidl will also compete in Xiamen with Tobias Winter.
A pair beginning to make their mark on the international circuit is Sergio Reynaldo Gonzalez Bayard and Nivaldo Nadir Diaz Gomez who come straight off the back of a win at the FIVB World Tour 1-star Langkawi event. The nation’s strongest male pairing Likejiang Ha/Jian Bao will represent China. Li Zhuoxin/Zhou Chaowei will also feature in their first ever FIVB World Tour event. The men’s competition gets underway in Xiamen with the qualification tournament on April 20. Israel’s Sean Faiga and Ariel Hilman top the teams vying for a position in the main draw and they will face Brazilian team Oscar/Hevaldo.
Brazilian teams top women’s tournament
Brazilian women make up the dominant teams in Xiamen, with four pairs making the trip east, Josi/Lili, Barbara/Fernanda, Juliana/Caro and Maria Antonelli/Carol Horta. Numerous changes can be seen within the Brazilian pairings for the 2017 season, notably Rio 2016 silver medallist Barbara Seixas De Freitas now playing alongside Fernanda Alves.
Josi/Lili enter Xiamen as top seeds after a fifth place finish in Fort Lauderale. Veterans Juliana Felisberta Da Silva and Carolina Solberg Salgado play together for the first time in their opening tournament of the year. Juliana and Maria Antonelli are the only players who have won a previous Xiamen World Tour title, taking gold together in 2014. Playing against Juliana and Maria Antonelli in the Xiamen 2014 final and taking silver was Wang Fan and Yue Yuan. Xue Chen and Xia Xinyi will feature with different partners to form Wang X. X./Xue and X.Y.Xia/Y.Y.Wang. The three Chinese teams will make their first FIVB World Tour appearance of the year, all hoping to monopolise on the home advantage.
Canada’s Gordon/Saxton will hope to build on their 2017 achievements with successive golds in Shepparton and then Sydney.
Austria’s Stefanie Schwaiger will aim for the Xiamen podium for the second year in a row, after taking silver in 2016 with former partner Barbara Hansel. Schwaiger joins forces with Katharina Schützenhöfer in 2017.The qualification tournament sees Maria Antonelli/Carol Horta as top seeds in the opening match of the day on 20 April up against Belgium’s Mouha/Gielen.
China has hosted 57 FIVB World Tour events through 2016, including 24 men’s and 33 women’s tournaments. Host country China has won 19 previous medals on its country’s soil, including two men’s silver medals, six women’s gold medals, seven women’s silver medals, and five women’s bronze medals.
FIVB will return to China for two women-only events, the Jiangning, Nanjing 2-star World Tour event from June 16 - 18 followed by the Nantong 2-star from June 23 - 25. The FIVB U-21 World Championships will be hosted in Nanjing from July 11 to 16 and then a 3-star World Tour event will take place in Qinzhou from October 11 to 15.
For further information visit www.fivb.com