2015-12-07 14:16:00 CEST
USA’s beach volleyball players will enjoy a month’s break before they resume training for the continuation of the 2015-16 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour and qualification for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games.
The USA has a proud record at Olympic Games, having won gold in either the men’s or women’s tournament at each edition since joining the programme at Atlanta 1996.
Kerri Walsh is aiming for a fourth consecutive gold, this time alongside London 2012 silver medallist April Ross, rather than Misty May-Treanor with whom she triumphed at Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012. In 2015 Walsh and Ross won silver at the Long Beach Grand Slam and bronze at the Fuzhou Open, but Walsh’s injured shoulder meant that they missed a number of tournaments and they now find themselves behind Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat and Ross’s former partner Jennifer Kessy and Emily Day in the rankings. Jacob Gibb and Casey Patterson lead the way among the USA men after they won gold at the St Petersburg Grand Slam and silver at the Olsztyn Grand Slam. If they qualify for Rio 2016 it will be Gibb’s third Olympics after Beijing 2008 and London 2012, but will be Patterson’s first.
Chasing them hard are two teams that have enjoyed good form at the end of 2015.
John Hyden and Tri Bourne occupy the USA men’s second qualification place and recently won bronze at the Qatar Open, their first World Tour medal since they won gold at the 2014 Berlin Grand Slam.
If they did qualify it would mean that Hyden would have played both beach volleyball and volleyball at an Olympic Games after he was part of the USA volleyball squad at Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000.
However, they are being pushed hard by Beijing 2008 gold medallist Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, who joined them on the Qatar podium with the silver. The pair only teamed up in mid-2015, but have enjoyed a stellar run of form that has garnered three gold and three silvers from the six ranking tournaments that they have played in.