The beach volleyball spot race was among the most convincing of the American Olympic qualifiers when the coronavirus pandemic interrupted competition. Kerri Walsh Jennings, triple gold medalist, and new partner Brooke Sweat had a small lead for the second and last place for women.
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Three men’s teams, including 2008 Olympic gold medalist Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, competed for two places. It was designed as a pivot spring. Not only when the tournaments will resume, but also how the Tokyo Olympic qualification process will be changed. According to the original ranking system, a team had their 12 best results in tournaments from September 1, 2018, to June 14, 2020.
Almost all the best teams have reached the minimum of 12 tournaments, which means that they will compete in 2020 to improve their bottom scores. The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) has not announced the changes that will be made now that the Tokyo Olympics are postponed to 2021. There are many obstacles once the sport is resumed, starting with the reprogramming of tournaments and / or determining a 2021 calendar.
Wong believes Walsh Jennings could make the most of the extra year. Even though, at 41, she is older than any other beach volleyball player. Older athletes know their bodies better. They played more. There is more muscle memory out there and more in the databases. So they will be able to refine. The best teams average over 550 points per tournament. Claes and Sponcil benefit in that their 11th and 12th best scores (400 points each) are lower than those of Walsh Jennings and Sweat (480 points each).
If and when Claes and Sponcil performed well in future tournaments, they would gain more points by obtaining lower scores. The Crabbs are brothers who previously played together. Gibb, 44, is three years older than the longest-standing Olympic beach volleyball player in history. Bourne, after missing the Rio Olympics, spent almost two years between events due to an autoimmune disease. Dalhausser, who won gold with Todd Rogers in 2008, has been the best American in the past decade. He envisioned retirement in 2018.
Dalhausser said last year that he plans to make 2020 his last international season. If Dalhausser and Lucena advance, they will likely overtake Crabb and Bourne for second place once they compete in their 12th Olympic qualifying event. Dalhausser and Lucena obtain an average of 530 points per event. Adding another of these would place them in second place by 10 points.
The Olympic favorites have won the last two seasons. The Norwegians Anders Mol and Christian Sorum on the male side. Ross and Klineman and the Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes for women. There was a pretty pecking order on the women’s side, and now you have a lot of time to think about it. I think that if the moment is more fortuitous for someone, it would be them.