Fort Lauderdale, USA, February 8, 2017 – Poland’s Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel were part of one of the most long-lasting beach volleyball partnerships of the last decades. After 11 seasons sharing the same side of the net, the two-time Polish Olympians start a new chapter of their story, now going separate ways, at the $600,000 Fort Lauderdale Major, the 2017 international season opener.
“We tried to find some new motivation and some new possibilities for us. There are some really good younger guys playing in Poland and that’s why we decided to change. It’s a new experience for both of us,” says the 31-year-old Prudel.Quick links - Beach volleyball:
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Playing together since 2006, when they finished 5th at the FIVB Junior World Championships, Fijalek and Prudel have 111 international tournaments under their belts, with 16 podium placements, including three gold medals. The duo was the country’s best ranked team internationally from 2009 to 2015 before Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak ended their streak last year.
Now they are teaming 22-year old Michal Bryl and Kacper Kujawiak respectively.
“I played with Mariusz for 11 years and now we thought it would be nice to change,” Fijalek said. “I am very excited to be with a young guy on my side. I must be like a teacher on the court and that is cool for me. It is an interesting role to be a mentor and it also motivates me.”
Bryl and Kujawiak are up-and-coming talents in the international scene. Former partners, the young Polish won the FIVB Youth World Championship in 2012, the FIVB U21 World Championship in 2014 and the European U22 Championship last year. With the experienced Fijalek and Prudel mentoring them, they are expected to expand their medals collection soon.Poland's Kacper Kujawiak returns the Mikasa
“My goal this season is to help his development. I will try to give him as much information as I can on the court. We can improve a lot on the tactical side and on learning how to play as a team. Of course we think about Tokyo 2020, but we’ll get there step by step,” comments Fijalek.
The new Polish tandems had opposite starts in their first tournament as Fijalek and Bryl cruised past Latvia’s Martins Plavins and Haralds Regza in straight sets 2-0 (21-18, 21-17) while Prudel and Kujawiak were defeated by Russian Nikita Liamin and Viacheslav Krasilnikov 2-0 (21-14, 21-16).