As the sand starts to heat up at Tokyo 2020, so does the competition. With beach legends coming face-to-face with Olympic newbys, the potential winners start to emerge.
But who will be able to make it through the preliminaries and then onto the semifinals? Only time will tell, but we can at least predict a few teams who have a shot at winning a medal this year.
So who do we think will win the gold, silver and bronze medals in the beach volleyball competition at this year’s Olympic Games?
Bronze – Agatha/Duda (BRA)
In the Provisional Olympic Rankings on FIVB’s website, this brazilian duo is in third place. I think they are a great team with a lot of potential, but I’m not sure their connection is quite there yet as a team. If they stay together for another Olympic cycle, I think they would be the team to beat. Yet, with how good the teams are this year, I think Brazil will have to settle for a bronze medal.
Agatha has the Olympic experience that will serve her and Duda well in the preliminaries and onto the more competitive matches. She won a silver medal last year, and I can only imagine that she will be chasing the gold medal this year. Agatha’s presence on the net is also something the other teams have to watch out for because she seems to be everywhere and block everything. Duda is also a fantastic player with big swings and great defense. This Brazilian duo is not one to sleep on because they will definitely be in the running to win a medal this year.
Silver – Pavan/Humana-Paredes (CAN)
For the final match in the women’s beach volleyball competition, I believe it’s going to be between the Canadians and the Americans. I’m putting Pavan and Melissa in the second place position because I think they are skilled, but history has shown us that the USA duo of Alix and April can pull out a win over the Canadians in the tournament setting.
Pavan has the years of experience behind her and height to help her in each match. She’s not only tall, but quick too and is a force at the net. Melissa is small in size, but that doesn’t mean she can’t be a threat in this game. She’s able to move around really well in the back court and pick up lots of trick shots and hard hits. She’s also able to place the ball and hit hard when needed when she’s attacking. I think they will put up a hard fight but ultimately end up with a silver medal.
Gold – Klineman/Ross (USA)
Like I said above, Alix and April have proven themselves to be a formidable opponent on the sand after defeating Pavan and Melissa in two 4-star beach tournaments, Doha and Sochi. I think when it comes to tournament play, Alix and April will have the leg up on Pavan and Melissa because of how they’ve competed with each other in the past.
April won a bronze medal in the last Olympics with partner, Kerri Walsh-Jennings, and is looking to end up back on the podium this year. April has the experience and the ability to get great ups in the back row, while Alix has the height at 6’5” to dominate at the net. This team has all of the components to win a gold medal, and I think if they’re able to perform under the Olympic pressure, they will come out on top.
Bronze – Cherif/Ahmed (QAT)
Not only can these guys play, but their story is also one to admire. Both men grew up in Africa, Cherif in Senegal and Ahmed in Gambia, and were recruited by agents to come play in Qatar. The twosome started playing together for a year in 2014, but split off to play with more experienced players to learn the game better. In 2018, they reunited and have been growing in popularity as they keep rising through the beach rankings. They are in the No. 3 spot in the FIVB Provisional Olympic Rankings as they head into the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
I’d love to see this duo end up on the podium because the country of Qatar has yet to win a medal in the men’s beach volleyball competition at the Olympics. They have the skills to do it too. They beat out the legendary USA team of Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena for a bronze medal at a 4-star beach event in Doha this year. If they’re able to let go and have some fun, then they will be well on their way to medaling at this year’s Olympic Games.
Silver – Krasilnikov/Stoyanovskiy (ROC)
This Russian duo is one to watch out for and I think they have a good chance at making it to the finals. With the combination of Krasilnikov’s experience and Stoyanovskiy’s energetic, youthful style of play, this pair will be difficult to defeat. Stoyanovskiy is a beast on the sand and earned the title of youngest world champion back in 2019. Krasilnikov is a calm, collected presence on the court that brings control and precision to the Russian’s game.
They are super consistent and able to read the ball super well. Their ability to place shots and be in the right place when it comes to defense is something the other teams need to watch out for because it can get them in trouble. I don’t think the Russians will ultimately win the gold over the Norwegians, but I do think they will win a silver medal in this year’s Olympic Games.
Gold – Mol A./Sorum C. (NOR)
This would be such a huge win for Norway, because their country hasn’t even been in the top five for beach volleyball yet, and this year, they are in a great position to win. I think Norway can pull out this win because both Mol and Sorum are incredible beach players and are a lot of fun to watch. Some of their hits are so good that it looks like they jumped off of a hard court instead of deep sand, and Mol’s ability to jump set as well as attack at the net is a deadly combination.
I think they not only have the team chemistry and skills set to win, but they also have the motivation to win. They are the only team from Norway playing in the beach competition, so their whole country is cheering them on. I think Mol and Sorum also have that drive to win because even though they sit at the top of the leaderboard, they’re still looked at as the underdogs because of Norway’s history, or lack thereof, in beach volleyball.
I think it will be super fun to watch them play and fight their way to the final match, and hopefully, secure Norway’s first-ever medal in the beach volleyball competition at the Olympics.
Who are your picks for the podium at this year’s Olympic Games? Do you think we missed a duo?