Shanghai, China, April 28, 2008 - With a four-week break since the first event on the 2008 calendar in Australia, the SWATCH FIVB World Tour returns to China for the 11th-straight year as the Jinshan District of Shanghai hosts the first of three "major" events on the international Beach Volleyball schedule in the Asian country this season.
The US$350,000 China Shanghai Jinshan Open begins here today with men's country quota playoff matches at the Jinshan Beach Stadium on Shihua Xincheng Road in the Jinshan District of Shanghai with competition concluding with the medal matches Saturday for men and Sunday for women. The gold medal winning teams will share the $28,000 first-place prizes.
A total of 52 men's and 61 women's teams from 32 countries have entered the China Shanghai Jinshan Open (as of April 26, 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, the banks of the Yangtze River Delta in East China hosts a SWATCH FIVB World Tour event for the fifth-straight season. The China Shanghai Jinshan Open features double gender competition for the fourth year as men's teams from Beach Volleyball power Brazil and women's tandems from China have claimed the last two events.
After staging Beach Volleyball's most prestigious event in August in the Chinese capital, China hosts the 2008 SWATCH FIVB World Tour season finale in Sanya for the inaugural event as the Asian country joins France (Paris and Marseille) and Norway (Stavanger and Kristiansand) in hosting multiple international Beach Volleyball events this year.
Former China Shanghai Jinshan Open gold medal winners in the 2008 field are Brazilians Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca (2005), Marcio Araujo/Fabio Magalhaes (2006) and Harley Marques/Pedro Salgado (2007) and host country pairs of Chen Xue/Xi Zhang (2006) and Jia Tian/Jie Wang (2007).
After American women Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs captured the inaugural China Shanghai Jinshan Open in 2004, Juliana and Larissa led a Brazilian podium sweep the next year. Xue's title in 2006 made her the youngest player to win a SWATCH gold medal (17 years, 3 months, 10 days).
After reaching the China Shanghai Jinshan Open finale in 2006 against their Chinese compatriots, Tian and Wang won their only 2007 title here in seven gold medal match appearances last season. The No. 2 team on last year's SWATCH FIVB World Tour behind Juliana and Larissa, Tian and Wang placed second at the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships in Switzerland.
Harley and Salgado, who captured the 2008 SWATCH FIVB World Tour season opener in Australia by defeating China's Penggen Wu and Linyin Xu in the finals, won their first international title at the Jinshan Beach Stadium by upsetting Marcio Araujo and Fabio for the China Shanghai Jinshan Open gold medal. Harley and Salgado also topped 2007 podiums in Finland and Russia.
Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos, the reigning Olympic champions, will be seeking their first SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal in China after placing second, second, fourth and fifth in four previous events in the Asian country. Javier Bosma and Pablo Herrera upset Emanuel and Ricardo for the 2004 FIVB title in Lianyungang. Later that year, Emanuel and Ricardo avenged the defeat to the Spaniards to capture the Athens Olympic gold medals. Herrera is in the 2008 China Shanghai Jinshan Open field with Raul Mesa.
The China Shanghai Jinshan Open is the 19th qualifying event for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games as the process started here 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 Beijing.
After the China Shanghai Jinshan Open, the men's SWATCH FIVB World Tour continues in Europe for events in the Czech Republic (Prague, May 6-11), Italy (Roseto degli Abruzzi, May 13-18) and Croatia (Zagreb, May 20-25) before the next double gender event in Barcelona, Spain (May 26-June 1). The women are idle the week after Shanghai before playing the next two weeks in Korea (Seoul, May 13-18) and Japan (Osaka, May 20-25) before heading to Barcelona.
photos Janos Schmidt