LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND, April 12, 2008 - After taking four weeks off after the season-opening event in Australia, the 2008 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour resumes at the end of April in the country that will host the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
The US$350,000 China Shanghai Jinshan Open, the second of 16 double gender events on the 2008 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar, will be staged April 28-May 4 at the Jinshan Beach Stadium on Shihua Xincheng Road in the Jinshan District of Shanghai. The men’s finale will be May 3 with the women’s medal matches the next day as the gold medal winning teams will share the $28,000 first-place prizes.
After opening the season in South Australia for the inaugural Adelaide Australia Open (March 25-30), the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour returns to Shanghai for the fifth-straight year for the second of nine events with the Asian confederation of the FIVB, including the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Highlighted by the Summer Games where the competition is scheduled for August 9-22 at the Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground, other Asian stops on the international tour will be in Korea, Japan, Thailand and the season finale in Sanya, China, one of 10 new sits on the 2008 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour.
In addition to Adelaide and Sanya, other new sites on the 2008 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour are set for Guaruja (Brazil), Prague (Czech Republic), Osaka (Japan), Myslowice (Poland), Moscow (Russia), Barcelona and Mallorca (Spain), and Dubai (United Arab Emirates).
A total of 59 men’s and 66 women’s teams from 32 countries have entered the China Shanghai Jinshan Open (as of April 11, 2008) including Angola, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the Ukraine and Venezuela.
With the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games looming, China hosts a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event for the 11th-straight season. While China has been staging a women’s SWATCH stop since 1998, the Asian country will be hosting a men’s FIVB event for the fifth-straight year.
Jinshan Beach has been the site of the international tour stop in Shanghai since 2004 with the 2008 event being the fourth-straight season of double gender competition. While Chinese women’s teams have won the past two Shanghai stops (Chen Xue/Xi Zhang in 2006 and Jia Tian/Jie Wang in 2007), Brazilian men’s tandems have captured the gold medals the last two years on Jinshan Beach. The 2006 women’s gold medal for Xue made her the youngest player to win a SWATCH gold medal (17 years, 3 months, 10 days).
Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca, who won the 2005 China Shanghai Jinshan Open gold medal, captured the 2008 season opener in Australia as Brazilians completed a podium sweep with the teams of Talita Antunes/Renata Ribeiro and Shelda Bede/Ana Paula Connelly claiming the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes ended a streak of back-to-back gold men’s gold medals for European tandems by defeating Brazilian rivals Pedro Cunha and Franco Neto for the 2006 China Shanghai Jinshan Open title before being upset in the 2007 Shanghai finale by compatriots Harley Marques and Pedro Salgado.
Winners of three of the last four SWATCH stops, Harley and Salgado opened the 2008 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour by defeating Penggen Wu and Linyin Xu of China in the Adelaide title match. It was the first-ever appearance by a Chinese men’s team in a FIVB gold medal match. Wu and Xu placed fifth in the 2007 Shanghai stop after finishing ninth in 2006.
The China Shanghai Jinshan Open is the 19th qualifying event for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games as the process started in May 2007 and concludes July 20 after a 2008 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour stop in Marseille, France. With the Beijing field featuring 24 teams per gender with no more than two tandems per country, a pair’s best SWATCH eight finishes will be considered when determining the field for the Summer Games in the Chinese capital.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS