Khomyakova targets “medals in Moscow”
29.02.2012 - Beach Volleyball
Ekaterina Khomyakova is gearing up for her fourth season on the FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour, and has said she is eager to begin her quest for a London 2012 Olympic Games berth, as well as impress her home fans at the Moscow Grand Slam.
The 24-year-old from Obninsk competed in 14 events on last year’s circuit alongside Anna Vozakova for four and Evgenia Ukolova for 11, but despite a long season she is already desperate to get back to the sand.
“The season starts very soon and I think we have something to work with,” she said. “It is the job we are doing now in [our training camp in] Brazil. Before this we practiced in Italy and, for me, we did a good job in the home country of our new coach [Italian Marco Solustri].”
Solustri joined up with the Russian women’s beach volleyball team earlier this year, replacing former coach Sergei Molchanov. Familiar with the state of the sport in Russia after working with men’s tandem Dmitry Barsouk and Igor Kolodinsky, the 59-year-old, a former player on the SWATH World Tour himself, is taking on a new challenge with the women.
“Our first impressions [of Solustri] are really positive,” Khomyakova said. “All the girls liked working with Marco from the first practice; we are trying to fulfil all his requirements. We are familiar with Solustri a little bit when he was Dima and Igor's coach, so the process of meeting was not too long. In addition, we already have the experience of working with a foreign specialist - Dane Selznik from USA was our coach not so long ago.
“It is difficult to single out something special about Solustri,” she continued. “Each coach has their own method, one does focus on something. I will not disclose all our secrets now. Hopefully people will see the result of Marco's work during the SWATCH World Tour.”
Russia has improved its beach volleyball credentials in recent years, with two women’s and four men’s pairs turning out for the FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Championships 2011 in Rome last year. Of course, Moscow also features as a Grand Slam, and will celebrate its fifth year on the circuit from June 6 to 12, a fact Khomyakova is very happy about.
“Honestly, we are very happy to hear the news that Moscow will stage a Grand Slam again,” she explained. “Despite the fact that it is doubly hard to play at home and there is a lot of pressure, the proverb that says the home support helps you is true. I want to please all the fans with medals in Moscow.”
Moscow is the penultimate event which will count towards qualification for the London 2012 Olympic Games, with just the Rome Grand Slam a week later helping to determine the top 16 teams that will automatically move on to Horse Guards Parade. Khomyakova currently sits outside this bracket with Vozakova, but it is not the only route to London. She is relishing the chance at fighting for an Olympic place at the CEV Continental Cup finals, set to take place from June 18 to 24, also in Moscow.
“This is another opportunity that fell for our team,” she said. “We could not go directly to the finals, but thanks to CEV, who decided to hold this tournament in Moscow, our team automatically got a place in this event. If we cannot get into the Top-16 rankings on the World Tour, the Continental Cup final is a real chance to win a ticket to the Olympic Games in London. Hopefully, with the support of our spectators this goal will be achieved. As for any athlete the main goal is the Olympic Games in London.”