Oslo, Norway, September 20, 2017 - After a six-season medal drought on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, Anders Mol and beach volleyball players from Norway are starting to make news on the international circuit.
Highlighted by a bronze medal finish at the Espinho Open in late July with 21-year old Mathias Berntsen, the 20-year old Mol became the first Norwegian player in history to win a post-season award in a voting by players, coaches, referees and FIVB delegates by being selected as the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour's 2017 men's Rookie of the Year.
The Espinho podium was the first medal for a Norwegian men’s and women’s team since 2010 when Tarjei Skarlund and Martin Spinnangr captured third place at the 2010 Norwegian Grand Slam on July 4. A year later on the same Norwegian dockside courts in Stavanger, Skarlund and Spinnangr played in the last final four for a men’s or women’s team from the Scandinavian country.
Iver Horrem received a FIVB Beach Volleyball post-season honour as the international circuit's top server based on speed and not via a vote. Swatch sponsored the award from 2003 through 2012 and based the award on the tour's top speed.
“I'm really proud to be the first Norwegian to win an award in a vote by the players, coaches, referees and FIVB delegates,” said Mol. “It really means a lot, but I couldn't have done it without the support from my family, friends and our awesome team of BeachVolley Vikings. Being voted through by the players, coaches, referees and FIVB delegates is really humbling me, and I’m glad they see some potential in me and Norwegian volleyball. We are optimistic that this is only the beginning, the Vikings are here to stay!”
Although Berntsen had more points (602) for competing in seven FIVB events, Mol's 570 points was compiled in only four events as he missed the first four months of the season due to two lung collapses in January and March while playing indoors in Belgium.
"It’s such an honour being awarded the Rookie of the Year," said Mol. "I was so shocked when I got the message. I didn't even expect to be playing much this summer because of two lung collapses at the start of the year. I was playing professionally in Belgium last year and my lung collapsed unexpectedly during a practice in January and once again in March. This forced me to do a surgery to prevent the collapses to happen again. The surgery took place April 20 in Bergen (Norway). I started practising again at the end of May and the month ended with me playing my first World Tour event with Christian (21-year old Sorum) in Moscow and we got a solid ninth-place. And from there on the season went extremely well."
A winner of 13 of 20 World Tour matches in 2017 with victories over several teams and players that competed in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Mol was asked about memorable moments this past season.
“The round 2 game against Austrians Doppler (Clemens) and Horst (Alexander) on centre court in Porec (Croatia) was just unreal,” said Mol. “We were so stoked playing against the local heroes and we almost had the game in our pockets, but in the final stages of the game they showed their experience and we lost our head a little. Of course, it was a huge disappointment right after the game, but now I look back at a great memory.”
Mol also cited 2017 FIVB World Tour wins over Viacheslav Krasilnikov/Nikita Liamin of Russia, Adrian Carambula/Alex Ranghieri of Norway and Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins of Latvia. “I start smiling just thinking about those wins,” said Mol. “Those players have been huge idols for me for such a long time and I have followed so many tournaments watching them play.”
When asked about being part of the "new" generation of Norwegian beach volleyball players, Mol said the “goal is to continue developing and expanding our game. We need to become more consistent and stable towards the end of the match. And if we can do that I think we can start fighting for the medals.
Mol said he has been playing “Volleyball as long as I can remember. I joined my mom and dad on tournaments and training camps abroad as a little child and I have always loved playing the sport. Growing up watching the big stars playing in Stavanger inspired me a lot and it made me start dreaming about playing there myself.”
As for a beach volleyball idol, Mol said he, “like many others, were big fans of Emanuel (Rego), Ricardo (Santos), Dalhausser (Phil) and Rogers (Todd). Seeing the Norwegian teams fighting against these big stars was a big inspiration for me. Tarjei Skarlund and Martin Spinnangr were the big Norwegian team that I followed and got inspired by them. I wanted to be like them, living the same life as they did, so they were the biggest idols I had.”
With Norway not qualifying a team for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Mol and the other BeachVolley Vikings have set their sights on playing in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games.
“Tokyo 2020 has been in my head since we played the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing in 2014,” Mol noted. “That was such an incredible experience and I want to relive it in Tokyo. Being able to represent the country in something as big as the Olympic Games is every athlete’s dream and I will do everything I can to make that happen in 2020. Tokyo has been the goal for our group BeachVolley Vikings ever since we started the project in 2015. All the Norwegians share the same goal and we are working hard every day to be there competing beside each other.”