London calling…

The Volleyball competition kicks off on Saturday 28 July and runs until Sunday 12 August. Twelve teams will compete in both the men’s and women’s events, making a total of 288 athletes! The location is the amazing Earls Court in West London, which first opened its doors to the public back in 1937.

Just eight of our FIVB Heroes have secured their starting positions so far at the FIVB World Cup in Japan last year – five men (Bartosz Kurek and Zbigniew Bartman of Poland, Giba and Murilo Endres of Brazil, and Maxim Mikhaylov of Russia) and three women (Yimei Wang of China, Simona Gioli of Italy and Destinee Hooker of the USA).

With competition fierce for those prized Olympic spots, our female FIVB Heroes will need to make the most of their opportunities at the Continental Olympic Qualification Tournaments, the next of which are April 27 until May 6 in Tijuana, Mexico, May 1-6 in Ankara, Turkey, May 8-14 in Sao Carlos, Brazil and May 19-27 in Tokyo, Japan.

Kenia Carcaces Opon of Cuba and Milagros Cabral de la Cruz of Dominican Republic will be hoping to secure their spot with a win in Tijuana, while Sheilla Castro of Brazil will be hoping the home crowd gets behind her as she attempts to book her place in Sao Carlos. Meanwhile, Ankara will offer a number of our FIVB Heroes the chance to book their tickets to London. Margareta Kozuch of Germany, Manon Flier of the Netherlands, Joanna Kaczor of Poland, Ekaterina Gamova of Russia, Jovana Brakocevic and Jelena Nikolic of Serbia, and Neslihan Darnel of Turkey, will be giving it all to ensure they are checking into the athletes village in three months time, and not watching it on TV from home. This also applies to Saori Kimura and Yoshie Takeshita of Japan as well as Yeon-Koung Kim of Korea which play in Tokyo from May 19-27.

The men’s chances will be 4-13 May in Long Beach, California, USA for Leon Venero Wilfredo of Cuba, Hector Soto of Puerto Rico and Clayton Stanley of USA, May 11-13 in Almirante, Argentina for Facundo Conte of Argentina, May 8-13 in Sofia, Bulgaria for Matey Kaziyski of Bulgaria, Antonin Rouzier of France, Ferdinand Tille of Germany, Simone Parodi of Italy and Sasa Starovic of Serbia and 1-10 June in Tokyo, Japan for Moon Sung-Min of Korea and for Kunihiro Shimizu as well as Tatsuya Fukuzawa of Japan.

These Continental Olympic Qualification Tournaments will be followed by the World Olympic Qualification Tournaments in Tokyo, Japan (parallel to Continental Olympic Qualification Tournaments), at Verona, Italy and Berlin, Germany from 8-10 June.

Qualifying for the Beach Volleyball is also underway, so our FIVB Heroes will be anxious to find out whether they have made the grade over the coming weeks. London will get its very own temporary beach with Horse Guards Parade, more used to hosting the famous Trooping of the Colour to mark the Queen’s official birthday, being transformed into something more resembling Santa Monica or Rio. Let’s hope the notorious London weather is also transformed!

It’s now or never for the FIVB Heroes. The results of qualifying over the next few weeks will determine who gets to step onto the court in the appropriately named Earls Court in London in just three months time.

For the latest qualifying results of the FIVB Heroes and of course the Olympic competition itself don’t forget to stay tuned to FIVBheroes.com.