Challenge - Saquarema, BRA - 2024 - Beach Pro Tour 2024 season - News


Chinese veteran Xue is one among several Olympic medalists set to play this week in Brazil

The Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour continues in Brazil for another week, now moving to the city of Saquarema, which will host the second Challenge tournament of the 2024 season from Thursday to Sunday, and valuable Olympic points will be in play at the Campo de Aviação.

Several women’s players with Olympic medals in their resumés are actively making another push for the Games and a strong finish this week in Brazil could bring them a lot closer to another Olympic appearance.

  • Watch the Saquarema Challenge matches live on VBTV.

A Beijing 2008 bronze medalist, Chinese star Chen Xue is looking for a fourth Olympic appearance this year. Partner Xinyi Xia and her are well-positioned in the FIVB Women’s Olympic Rankings, currently sitting in seventh place with 8,200 points.

A strong finish in Saquarema, where the title will be worth 800 points, would be extremely helpful for the Asians, who are the top-seeded duo entering the Brazilian event. Xue and Xia, who were 13th at the season-opening Doha Elite16, topped the podium in the South American country about a year ago, winning the Itapema Challenge.

The German battle

Seeded fourth in the Saquarema main draw alongside partner Louisa Lippmann, German superstar Laura Ludwig, a Rio 2016 Olympic champion, is determined to make her fifth straight Olympic appearance in a few months in Paris.

The two are just outside the qualification zone, with 5,740 points, but should have no problem getting in after Saquarema as they only have ten of 12 required results accounted for. Ludwig and Lippmann, however, have also to be one of the top two teams in the German internal race to book their tickets to Paris and are currently behind Cinja Tillmann/Svenja Müller (6,900) and Sandra Ittlinger/Karla Borger (6,080).

A similar three-way race is going on between Swiss teams and among them is the one of Tokyo Olympic bronze medalists Joana Mäder and Anouk Vergé-Dépré. The two-time Olympians are currently inside the qualification zone and are the third-best-ranked duo from the country, with 7,000 points.

The race has been very tight as Zoé Vergé-Dépré and Esmée Böbner, who will also play in Saquarema this week, have 7,020, while European champions Tanja Hüberli and Nina Brunner, who won’t, have the most points among the three, with 7,100.

**Saquarema Challenge – Women’s Entry List**

Rio 2016 Olympic silver medalist Ágatha Bednarczuk is looking to return to the Games as well, but partner Rebecca Cavalcanti and her have a big mountain to climb. Although the 7,320 points they have represent a solid number in the Olympic race, they’re just the fourth-best total among Brazilian teams, behind Eduarda ‘Duda’ Lisboa/Ana Patrícia Ramos (11,820), Bárbara Seixas/Carol Salgado (10, 200) and Tainá Bigi/Victoria Lopes (7,860).

Cubans on the rise

The men’s tournament in Saquarema will represent a big opportunity for teams currently looking at the Olympic qualification zone from the outside to earn valuable points and get in the mix with just over two months left to qualify.

Cubans Jorge Alayo and Noslen Díaz are probably the best examples of that. The Caribbean are coming from a big second-place finish at the Recife Challenge this past weekend and could give another massive step forward this week in Saquarema.

Although they’re still fairly behind the lowest-ranked team that would qualify if the deadline was now (5,920 points), Alayo and Díaz have more room for improvement than anyone, with 4,140 points amassed and only seven results accounted for.

**Saquarema Challenge – Men’s Entry List**

Two other teams in similar positions are Ukrainians Sergiy Popov and Eduard Reznik, who have 4,400 points and nine finishes, and the English Bello twins Joaquin and Javier, who have 4,360 points and nine results and are coming from a podium appearance in Recife, where they finished third.

The tournament in Saquarema begins on Thursday, with the qualifier featuring 32 men’s and women’s teams. Eight pairs in each gender will advance to the main draw, which starts on Friday. The medal matches will take place on Sunday.

Quick links:
Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour
Subscribe to Volleyball World's Newsletter