Thailand set to host the event for the third time in a row from November 7 to 12
France’s Arthur Canet in a spectacular dig at the 2023 Gstaad Elite16
Among the numerous young hopefuls set to test the sand at the upcoming 2023 FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships in Roi Et, a few names with an already established presence in international beach volleyball stand out and further stir the excitement about the event starting in Thailand on Tuesday, November 7, and lasting through Sunday, November 12.
France’s Arthur Canet & Teo Rotar are probably the main favourites for the men’s title. In position 32, they are the highest placed team in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Ranking that will hit the courts in Roi Et this week. Two years ago, they claimed the U19 world title in Phuket, and this year, 19-year-old Rotar and 18-year-old Canet triumphed as U20 European champions. The French duo’s record also includes a U19 World Championship bronze and a U20 European Championship silver in 2022, as well as a couple of medals on the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour.
Number 81 in the World Ranking, Timo Hammarberg & Tim Berger of Austria, are also set to present themselves in Roi Et. They have already collected three age-category continental medals in Europe, a 2021 U18 bronze, a 2022 U20 gold and a 2023 U20 silver, while also finishing fourth in the U22 age group in July. Just a few days ago, the young Austrians achieved their first Beach Pro Tour podium by earning gold at the Mallorca Futures.
Two of the participants in last year’s all-Latvian U19 World Championship final, gold medallist Kristians Fokerots and runner-up Olivers Bulgacs, will appear at the upcoming U21 World Champs as a team. Fokerots has already collected five age-category European Championship medals and three Beach Pro Tour podiums. His current regular partner is London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Martins Plavins. Bulgacs was Fokerots’s teammate for this year’s bronze medals at the U22 and U20 continental championships. He also has a Beach Pro Tour bronze with partner Edgars Tocs.
The men’s entry list also features an interesting pairing of 20-year-old Norwegian Jo Gladsoy Sunde, a four-time Beach Pro Tour gold medallist and a 2023 U22 European champion, and his regular partner Markus Mol’s 19-year-old brother Adrian, the fourth of the five Mol siblings, the most distinguished of whom is reigning Olympic champion Anders Mol.
Latvia’s Ebere & Konstantinova in action during the 2023 Espinho Challenge
18-year-old Czech twins Anna Pavelkova & Katerina Pavelkova and the Latvian pairing of 16-year-old Liva Ebere and 18-year-old Deniela Konstantinova, both within the top 100 in the World Ranking, are among the highlights in the women’s entry list for Roi Et. The Pavelkovas claimed the 2022 U18 European title and a 2023 U20 continental bronze. Ebere & Konstantinova took U20 European silver in 2022.
This year’s U20 European champions Malgorzata Ciezkowska & Urszula Lunio of Poland will also compete at the U21 World Champs this week. So will Spain’s Sofía Izuzquiza, who claimed two age-category European medals, U18 gold and U22 bronze, this year and will appear in Roi Et with a different partner, Daniela Andreu.
Last year’s U19 world champion Yeva Serdiuk of Ukraine is set to compete alongside Kateryna Udovenko, while the bronze medallists of the championship in Dilikli, Ruby Sorra & Emma Glagau, will represent Canada again.
Switzerland’s 18-year-old rising star Leona Kernen, who claimed bronze at the previous edition of the U21 World Championship two years ago, as well as the U18 European title that year and a U20 continental silver this year, will play with Annique Niederhauser, while Australia’s Jasmine Fleming, a member of the world’s number 40 women’s team, has joined forces with Stefanie Fejes for the upcoming tournament in Thailand.
The 19th edition of the FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships is the third consecutive one to take place in Thailand, after the south-eastern Asian country welcomed the world’s rising beach stars to Udon Thani in 2019 and to Phuket in 2021.
The event will start on Tuesday with a 24-team qualifier in each gender. The main draw action featuring 32 teams per gender will unfold from Wednesday to Sunday, when the new U21 world champions in beach volleyball will become known.
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