Lausanne, Switzerland, March 1, 2016 – Spectators flocked to the Pajuçara beach for the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Maceió Open from February 23 to 28.
Maceió, the capital city of the state of Alagoas, hosted the first of four Brazilian World Tour events this year. The double-gender open event in Maceió featured the men’s event for the first time, while the women’s event was organised for the second time.
In 1996, Brazilian pair Sandra Pires and Jackie Silva won the gold medal in the first staging of the Maceió Open, the same year they won the Olympic gold medal in Atlanta, which was also the first year beach volleyball became a medal sport.
Since then, the Maceió locals’ love for the discipline of beach volleyball remains unabated and the fans’ and players’ reception was tremendously positive.
“The event has been spectacular,” Argentina’s Ana Gallay said. “Beach volleyball is popular here in Brazil. Everywhere you go, you can notice that people love it. Flocks of fans fill up the stands and they cheer for their teams and are very respectful to the opponents. I have great energy to play here, I am very happy.”
The kind of energy that the crowd gave to the players was remarkable, which created a festive atmosphere in and around the venue. Beijing 2008 Olympic gold medallist Phil Dalhausser had to face pressure from the crowd, as his team were up against Brazilians Pedro Solberg and Evandro Goncalves. However, Dalhausser drew energy from the loud cheers to spark up his team’s drive to victory.
“It is always a pleasure to play in Brazil,” USA’s Dalhausser said. “The fans are great. We can feel the energy coming out from the stands. Beach volleyball is a big deal here and we are happy to be a part of it.”
“The whole tournament and its structure were beautiful,” Brazil’s Agatha Bednarczuk said of the lively crowd. “The crowd stood still even under the sun. I believe the foreign teams will take with them all this energy that the people here gave to us during the matches.”
After the top four teams of Brazil were knocked out of gold medal contention at the Maceió Open, the remaining Brazilian pair stepped up to capture the 149th women’s gold medal on the World Tour since 1992. Eduarda Lisboa (Duda) and Elize Maia benefitted from the support of the home fans to seize top spot in Maceió
“The FIVB World Tour structure has always been great, so I knew that it would not be different here in Maceió,” Duda said. “We used to play here many times in our national circuit, but in this World Tour event, we had a lot of support from the fans and that helped us a lot.”
Levan Akhvlediani, FIVB technical supervisor for the Maceió Open, was impressed with the passion of the fans and the organisers.
“For the past 20 years, beach volleyball has grown, especially in Brazil,” Akhvlediani said. “I am impressed with the national federation’s efforts in organising four World Tour events, including the Maceió Open. I commend the top-level organisation of the competition and its great spectators.
“I have been to many events around the world in my capacity as president of the Georgia Volleyball Federation and as an FIVB technical supervisor. I have visited many cities but the crowd at Maceió created an unparalleled atmosphere, with long queues every day - even on working days – to watch the matches.
The World Tour’s next stop on Brazilian soil will be the Grand Slam in Rio de Janeiro on March 8 to 13, and the Open events in Vitoria from March 15 to 20 and Fortaleza from April 26 to May 1.