First two Rio 2016 Olympic Beach Volleyball pairs announced

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, September 1, 2015 - The first two teams to qualify for a berth in the Beach Volleyball competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games were announced here Tuesday before the start of the US$150,000 Rio Open that will serve as a "test" event for the Summer Games' tournament to be played on iconic Copacabana beach.The Confederação Brasileira De Voleibol (CVB), Brazil’s volleyball federation, announced that the pairs of Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca have earned the right to compete in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games after posting the best men’s and women’s results, respectively, using a formula based on nine events on the 2015 FIVB World Tour.Brazil has two berths per gender in the Beach Volleyball competition for Rio 2016 Olympic Games due to being the host country along with winning both the men's and women's FIVB 'senior" World Championships this July 4-5 in The Hague.  The South American country’s volleyball federation is expected to reveal the teams filling the nation’s second entries in both the men’s and women’s competition in January.

In determining the first two pairs announced Tuesday, the CVB used results from nine FIVB World Tour events this season, including five Grand Slam stops in Russia (Moscow), the United States (St. Petersburg and Long Beach), Japan (Yokohama) and Poland (Olsztyn) and three SWATCH Major Series tournaments in Croatia (Porec), Norway (Stavanger) and Switzerland (Gstaad).  This week’s Rio Open on Copacabana beach was also part of the formula if no team had clinched a berth.The “race to Rio” for the Brazilian teams were based on a pair’s best seven results among the nine events.  Despite one event remaining in the process, Alison/Bruno and Talita/Larissa clinched the top spots last week in Poland by topping the podiums in Olsztyn.  Here are the rankings for the teams that have compiled seven results in the first eight events in the Brazilian qualifying process with a maximum of 800 points available at the Rio Open for the winning team, if from Brazil.

Men's Team, points
• Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt, 4,480
• Evandro Goncalves/Pedro Solberg, 3,560
• Emanuel Rego/Ricardo Santos, 2,760Women's Team, points
• Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca, 4,840
• Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas, 4,040
• Maria Antonelli/Juliana Felisberta, 3,320
• Fernanda Alves/Taiana Lima, 2,400
• Carolina Salgado/Maria Clara Salgado, 2,120“Prior to the start of the FIVB World Tour this season, we established a formula to determine the teams that will participate for our country in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games,” said Fulvio Danilas, the Beach Volleyball Director at Brazilian volleyball federation.“Due to the number of quality men’s and women’s teams that we have playing Beach Volleyball on the international tour, our goal was to give each and every one of those teams an opportunity to represent our country in the Olympics,” said Danilas.  “The first step is to use results from FIVB World Tour events to name our first men’s and women’s teams.  The second step is to review the various results to determine our second two men’s and women’s teams for announcement in January 2016.”

“By using the formula by taking a team’s best seven of nine results in the pre-determined events on the 2015 FIVB World Tour, it allowed for the teams to eliminate two poor results or allow a team to miss an event due to injuries,” said Danilas.  “We also did not use the points from the world championships to be counted since the event was regulated and not open to all contending teams from Brazil due to the maximum number of teams allowed per country.”Alison and Bruno are the “hottest” team on the international circuit and will be seeking their sixth-straight FIVB World Tour gold medal finish at the Rio Open.  The Brazilians started their string of consecutive podium-topping finishes by winning the world championships at the start of July in The Hague followed by titles in Switzerland (Gstaad), Japan (Yokohama), the United States (Long Beach) and this past weekend in Poland (Olsztyn).

The last time a men’s team on the FIVB World Tour had a better winning streak of tournament titles was in 1999 when Brazilians Jose Loiola and Emanuel topped consecutive international podiums six times with gold medal finishes in Norway (Stavanger), Italy (Lignano), France (world championships in Marseille), Austria (Klagenfurt), Portugal (Espinho) and Belgium (Ostende).After starting the season with a fourth, 17th, ninth and ninth in their first four starts in Russia, Croatia, Norway and the United States and a 13-7 match mark, Alison and Bruno have almost been perfect on the court by posting a 36-2 record with both losses in pool play.While Bruno has earned his first Olympic berth, Alison will be competing in his second Summer Games.  As one of the world’s most dominating blockers and attacker, Alison netted the silver medal at the London 2012 Olympics with Emanuel as the pair dropped the 61-minute Summer Games finale on Horseguard Parade to Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann of Germany 2-1 (23-21, 16-21, 16-14).While Agatha and Barbara are the topped-ranked pair on the women’s tour and the newly-crowned women’s FIVB world champions, Talita and Larissa have won the most gold medals (five) and money ($324,000) on the 2015 FIVB World Tour.  In the last 13 months since forming their partnership in July 2014, Talita and Larissa have nine gold medals in 14 events with an impressive 80-8 match mark and $534,000 in earnings.Both Talita and Larissa are two-time Olympians.  Larissa teamed with Juliana Felisberta to claim the bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games while Talita finished ninth with Maria Antonelli.  At the Beijing 2008 Olympics, Talita was fourth with Renata Ribeiro while Larissa was fifth with Ana Paula Connolly after Juliana withdrew due to a knee injury.  In Beijing, both Brazilian pairs lost to eventual gold medal winners Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States.


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