2017-09-18 10:00:00 CET

The Beach Volleyball Viking on the rise

Anders Mol has been named the FIVB Rookie of the Year for 2017. We sat down and talked to the young Norwegian about family, beating his heroes and the future

Anders pictured at the Poreč Major in June where he finished ninth - losing in three sets to Austrians Doppler/HorstAnders pictured at the Poreč Major in June where he finished ninth - losing in three sets to Austrians Doppler/Horst

He’s the 20-year-old rising star of Norwegian beach volleyball who sits and eats his dinner with his heroes before devouring them on Center Court. Meet 2017 Rookie of the Year Anders Mol.

The youngster follows in the footsteps of the likes of Jake Gibb, Adrian Gavira, Christiaan Varenhorst and Alvaro Filho to pick up one of the most prestigious of end-of-season awards.

What’s more, he’s done it in his first full season as a professional which has seen him finish ninth in the Gstaad Major and Poreč Major and fifth in the European Championships. Quite an achievement.

“I didn’t expect it all, it completely surprised me,” Anders told swatchmajorseries.com. “There’s so many great players that were also nominated and it’s such a big deal. For it to come in my first pro season is incredible. The season’s gone really well but I never imagined I would win this award.

“The title, Rookie of the Year, hasn’t come without hard work or effort. It’s been a big dream of mine for such a long time and now I’m on my way.”

Mol’s story to the international beach scene is a fascinating one. Anders forms part of the Beachvolley Vikings team, which includes his brother Hendrik, cousin Mathias Bernsten and Christian Sørum. The quartet are trained and supported by his father Kaare and uncle Jetmund Bernsten, as well as his mother Merita Mol – who represented Norway when beach volleyball made it’s Olympic debut in Atlanta in 1996.

Yet his path to becoming this year’s top rookie seemed a million miles away earlier in the season. The 2017 season began with Anders playing indoor volleyball professionally in Belgium to get the taste of the inside game. But he returned half-way through the beach season and, together with Mathias, the pair set to work on putting some of their beach idols to the sword on the sand.

“It’s insane, we’ve watched YouTube videos of the big stars and we’re sitting down and having dinner with them,” continues Anders, a three-time European youth beach champion. “It’s strange to think that we’re the young rookies, even though we beaten some of them. It’s hard to realize how far we have come.

“It’s crazy to think we’ve taken down the likes of Samoilovs/Smedins, Herrera/Gavira and Liamin/Krasilnikov this year. We’re a bit star-struck before games but once we’re on the court and the other side of the net it’s a whole new game – we just want to beat them.”

There is plenty of support for the Beach Volleyball Vikings on the World TourThere is plenty of support for the Beach Volleyball Vikings on the World Tour

With such positive results – against some of the most experienced names in the game – comes the pressure of producing performances on a consistent basis and turning those into places on the podium.

So what does the rookie and his team of Vikings need to do to step it up in 2018?

“The biggest goal in pre-season will be to gain a lot of physical strength,” explains Anders. “We’ve already had so many great experiences, playing in the Swatch Major Series inside big stadiums with crowds cheering against us against some of the top teams – but we need that training to do better.”

However, it’s not just getting stronger that Anders believes he needs to do to add to his list of successes that he’s achieved so far in his early beach volleyball career.

“We know we can beat teams but sometimes we need to learn to deal with the pressure,” he admits. “It’s that experience other teams have. That’s not something you can learn on the practice court unfortunately. Capturing the moment and doing better in certain situations will come with time but we’ve already been through a lot even though we’re in our 20s.

“We have so much more to learn but we have so much more potential.”

With a Rookie of the Year award now on his CV, Anders is hoping the recognition can help him and the team to more success in 2018 and beyond.

“It’s such a big honor and I’m so proud, plus it’s a very special thing for Norwegian volleyball,” he says. “It makes us motivated to keep on training and I’d like to thank my family because for sure we wouldn’t have enjoyed the success without them.

“Hopefully now we can win some major tournaments and we’ll be putting in a lot of hard work to try and make that happen.

“I’m very excited to see how the future looks for the Beach Volleyball Vikings.”

Want to watch Anders in action on the Swatch Major Series? Easy, just head to BeachStream! Click here to log in or subscribe.

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