Beach Pro Tour - News


After making their international debut at last year's La Paz Challenge, the Cubans have been accumulating good results on the Beach Pro Tour

Until two months ago, the idea of Noslen Diaz and Jorge Alayo competing at the Paris Olympics could be considered borderline delusional as the Cubans had just over 3,000 points in the FIVB provisional Olympic Rankings and not much time left to add to it.

Besides that, they were a fairly inexperienced team competing against the very best of the sport, having entered the 2024 Olympic season with just five international tournaments under their belts and a fourth-place finish to show for.

However, with extremely strong performances over the course of a month, which saw them add 4,000 points after four consecutive semifinal appearances on the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour from the end of March to the end of April, the Caribbean are now strong contenders to claim one of the 17 spots in play via the Olympic Rankings.

Diaz, 21, and Alayo, 22, went to the semifinals of each of the Challenge tournaments held in Recife, Saquarema and Guadalajara and the Elite16 event held in Tepic, getting back-to-back silver medals in Brazil and securing bronze in Mexico to step on the podium in an Elite16 tournament for the first time.

Their recent results may have changed the way their opponents see the young Cubans, but, for them, it all remains the same as their only goal continues to be representing their country at the Olympics in a few months and taking Cuban beach volleyball back to the biggest stage of international sports after missing out in Tokyo three years ago.

Diaz and Alayo won’t be on the court at this week’s Elite16 event in Brasília, Brazil, as they will appear in an event of the NORCECA continental tour instead, but it’s more of matter of not if, but when they will break into the qualification zone for Paris 2024.

We spoke with Diaz right after their third-place finish in Tepic to find out more about their Olympic aspirations in a Volleyball World exclusive interview.

Volleyball World: Jorge and you didn’t start competing on the Beach Pro Tour until last year. How is this experience going for you? Did you expect to be in a position to compete for an Olympic spot in such a short period of time?

Diaz: We’ve been playing together for just two years and it’s been a great experience for us to compete on the Beach Pro Tour. Since the start, we’ve been giving everything to accomplish our main goal, which is to qualify for Paris, and every time we go on the court, we leave all we have there.

VW: The last results have been very helpful in terms of helping you two qualify for Paris, especially the bronze at the Tepic Elite16. How confident are you that you’re going to be in Paris and how do you plan to approach these final tournaments of the qualification period?

Diaz: We’re very happy to have won our first medal in an Elite16 event and we know that it will help us a lot in qualifying to Paris. But we’ll keep working to turn our dream of playing in front of the Olympic rings into reality. We’ll continue to give our best in every tournament.

VW: Last season Jorge and you represented Cuba at the Pan American Games, which is considered a smaller version of the Olympics at the continental level, and even got to win silver. How was the experience of being part of a Cuban delegation with athletes from other sports?

Diaz: Representing Cuba at the Pan American Games was an unforgettable experience for me. It was really nice to be competing alongside athletes from other sports to get good results for Cuba. We were very happy that we managed to take silver for our country.

VW: What do you think makes of Jorge and you such a strong team on the Beach Pro Tour? What do you think are your main strengths and what are some areas of the game you are working to improve?

Diaz: I think the brotherhood we have is a big factor in our results. It makes us very comfortable with each other on and off the courts. And we also take our work very seriously and do our best every day. There are, of course, some aspects of our game we still need to improve but I’m confident we’ll be well-prepared for the Olympics.

VW: Recently, you two were in Brazil training with beach volleyball Olympic champion Jackie Silva, one of the legends of the sport. How did that go?

Diaz: Yes, we got to spend a week in Rio with Jackie. She’s an excellent coach and had a lot of interesting stuff to share with us. For us, to be with a champion like Jackie was incredible. We got to learn a lot of things we weren’t used to, especially in the psychological side of the game.

VW: You are 2.07m tall and most players of your size on the Beach Pro Tour are playing as blockers. What made you want to play on defense and how happy are you with your progress as a player so far?

Diaz: What inspired me to be a defender was watching Nivaldo Diaz at the Rio Olympics. After I saw him on the court, I knew I wanted to be a tall defender too. I’m very proud of the player I’m becoming, but I expect to continue improving so I can reach my full potential.

VW: Are you related to Nivaldo Diaz?

Diaz: It’s funny that a lot of people ask me that question, but no, we’re not related. But he’s the player I looked up to when I decided to play beach volleyball and I appreciate him a lot. In fact, I never got to meet him. I tried to contact him in the past and one day he went to my school to meet me and give me some advice, but I didn’t go to class that day. It’s been a great privilege to watch him play and I hope I can meet him one day.


Standing at 2.07m, Diaz is one of the tallest defenders on the Beach Pro Tour