Olsztyn, Poland, June 14, 2016 - After winning gold medals in three of their last four Beach Volleyball tournaments, can Germans Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst remain on a roll?
The German team with the most FIVB World Tour gold medals to their credit since the start of the women’s international circuit in 1992, Ludwig and Walkenhorst will be the third-seeded team in the US$800,000 Olsztyn Grand Slam when pool play begins here Wednesday morning on the Crooked Lake courts behind the Hotel Omega.
The second annual event will also feature men’s qualifying Wednesday where eight teams will advance from the preliminary rounds to the “money” portion of the FIVB World Tour stop starting Thursday. The Olsztyn Grand Slam will have elimination rounds for women Friday followed by Saturday’s “final four” matches. The men’s eliminator will be Saturday followed by the medal matches Sunday. The winning teams will share the $57,000 first-place prizes.
Prior to winning last week’s smart Major Hamburg in their hometown, Ludwig started their streak of gold medal finishes by topping the podium at the Antalya Open May 22. Two weeks later at the European Championships in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland, the German gals collected another gold medal. Sandwiched between the Turkey and Swiss titles was a ninth at the Moscow Grand Slam.
During the streak, Ludwig and Walkenhorst have won 23 of 25 contests with a 12-match winning streak highlighted by a 2-1 (21-19, 19-21, 15-12) win in 55 minutes over reigning FIVB world champions Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas of Brazil in the smart Major Hamburg finale this past Saturday.
Both of the Germans’ setbacks in the last four weeks are playing in the Main Draw at the Olsztyn Grand Slam, including host country favorites Monika Brzostek/Kinga Kolosinska and Greece’s Vasiliki Arvaniti/Penny Karagkouni. The Poles defeated Ludwig and Walkenhorst in a Moscow elimination match while Arvaniti and Karagkouni topped the Germans in pool play at the European championships.
Monika Brzostek (left) and Kinga Kolosinska of Poland after defeating Ludwig and Walkenhorst in Moscow.
In addition to competing against the Poles, the Greeks and Agatha/Barbara, Ludwig and Walkenhorst might also encounter Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca of Brazil in their efforts to win a fourth gold medal. Talita and Larissa are the defending Olsztyn Grand Slam champions after defeating Madelein Meppelink and Marleen Van Iersel of The Netherlands 2-0 (21-12, 25-23) in the 37-minute gold medal match. The Dutch are also competing in Olsztyn this week.