Olympic champs lead Fort Lauderdale hopefuls

Lausanne, Switzerland, January 20, 2017 – Three of the Rio 2016 Olympic champions will be in action when the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour begins with the Fort Lauderdale Major Series on February 7.

Men’s champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt will be taking to the Floridian sand, but only Kira Walkenhorst will be in attendance from the women’s champions as Laura Ludwig is recuperating from a shoulder injury. Walkenhorst will play alongside Julia Grossner instead.

Teams Men - Main draw
Teams Women - Main draw

Rio 2016 silver medallists Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai will also be playing, as will one half of the women’s silver medallists, Agatha Bednarczuk who is now playing alongside Eduarda ‘Duda’ Santos Lisboa.

Women’s bronze medallists and local favourites Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross will begin their fourth full season together and they represent the host nation’s best chances of victory.

Both draws are a mix of well-established partnerships and new pairings.

Rio 2016 Olympians Spain’s Adrian Gavira and Pablo Herrera, Latvia’s Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs and USA’s Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena will all pick up where they left off in 2016, but USA Rio 2016 Olympians Jacob Gibb and Casey Patterson will line up with new partners.

Gibb will play with Casey Crabb and Patterson will take the sand with Theodore Brunner. Poland’s long-time leading duo Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel will also line up alongside new teammates, namely Michal Bryl and Kacper Kujawiak respectively.

Larissa Franca and Talita Antunes claimed gold at the 2015 World Tour Finals in Fort Lauderdale

In the women’s draw Brazil’s Larissa Franca and Talita Antunes return to the city where they won the 2015 FIVB World Tour Finals aiming to start the year in positive form having finished fourth at both the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games and the Toronto 2016, World Tour Finals.

Australia’s Rio 2016 Olympians Louise Bawden and Nicole Laird will play their first FIVB tournament in tandem as will Switzerland’s Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre, who played with different partners in Rio.

Fort Lauderdale will also mark the return of the partnership between Madelein Meppelink and Sophie van Gestel. They won gold at the 2013 Corrientes Grand Slam, but split at the end of the year when van Gestel wanted to take some time off.

Meppelink then teamed up with Marleen van Iersel and van Gestel eventually returned to play with Jantine van der Vlist and both teams appeared at Rio 2016. Then when Meppelink and van Iersel parted ways at the end of the year, the pair decided to reunite a partnership that reached their quarterfinals in their first tournament together, the 2009 U21 World Championships.

Quick links - Beach volleyball:
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour 2017
Rio 2016 Olympic Games - Beach Volleyball - Beach Volleyball
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