Hamburg, Germany, August 24, 2017 – Hosts of the $800,000 Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals presented by Vodafone, Germany has traditionally performed very well on the men’s international scene and the country is ranked third in all-time medals only behind Brazil and the United States.
Almost every one of Germany’s remarkable recent results came at the hands of Jonas Reckermann and Julius Brink, who paired to win an Olympic gold medal (2012), the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships (2009), the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour (2009) and two European titles (2011 and 2012). Since they retired, in 2013 and 2014 respectively, however, results have not been as strong.
For each of the past five years the country failed to have a men’s team in the top seven of the world rankings. Over the same span of time, the focus in the country clearly shifted to the women’s teams, who combined to win 46 medals on the World Tour, as well as an Olympic and a world title won by Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst, while the men amassed only 12.
“It changed completely,” commented 29-year-old Jonathan Erdmann, a London 2012 Olympian. “I think the women’s teams we have now are getting better results than before while on the men’s side some guys retired like Julius, Jonas, Eric (Koreng), David (Klemperer) and Kay (Matysik), my former partner. We have a mix of different generations now and in beach volleyball, teams usually have more success when they are together for a longer time. Most of our teams are just starting this process now.”
Erdmann and Dollinger defeated Brazilians Alvaro Filho and Saymon in front of their home fans on Wednesday
This year, Germany’s best team in the World Tour was Markus Bockermann/Lars Fluggen, who rank 14th and won the Olsztyn stop. In Hamburg, the 31-year-old Bockermann is competing with 25-year-old Lorenz Schumann as Fluggen is injured, while Erdmann is partnering 26-year-old Armin Dollinger.
Both teams started the tournament on the right foot as Bockermann/Schumann defeated Canadian Olympians Ben Saxton and Chain Schalk while Erdmann/Dollinger beat Brazilians Alvaro Filho and Saymon Barbosa.
To Bockermann, hosting the World Tour Finals in Hamburg is a good opportunity for the men’s teams to get some attention and show the world they can still compete against the best teams.
“It’s hard to explain what happened, but maybe it had something to do with less talent on the men’s side and bad decisions in a couple of situations in the past,” he said. “This tournament is an opportunity to have the focus on beach volleyball, to grow the sport. It’s great for Germany and for Hamburg and we’re working to do our part on the courts.”