Hamburg, Germany, June 2, 2016 - In a city where the Beatles got their start in the early 1960s, Beach Volleyball on a world-wide level will be played for the first time in the northern German port city where the planet’s best players will convene here next week for the inaugural Hamburg Major.
The first of five SWATCH Major Series events to be played on the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour calendar, the US$800,000 Hamburg Major will be the site where dreams are finalized for 30 pairs in their qualifying effort for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as the event is the last stop in the process that started in April 2015 in China.
At a May 3 media conference announcing the event, FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça F said “with Hamburg joining the Beach Major family, it provides a great opportunity for fans to see the world’s top Beach Volleyball athletes as they get a last chance to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. I look forward to what promises to be a great event in Germany.”
Two-time German Olympian and Hamburg resident Laura Ludwig said "to play in front of fans for a spot in Rio makes it something very special." Ludwig and her partner Kira Walkenhorst have already guaranteed Germany a spot in the Copacabana quadrennial as the pair ranks fourth overall on the Olympic qualifying list behind teams from Brazil and the United States.
Laura Ludwig stretching for Mikasa
The Hamburg Major will be played at the Am Rothenbaum stadium. The Hamburg Major starts Tuesday (June 7) with qualifying where eight men’s and eight women’s teams will advance to Main Draws where pool play will be featured Wednesday and Thursday. The women’s semi-finals medal matches will be June 11 and the men’s “final four” contests June 12.
The gold medal teams will each share the $57,000 first-place prize for the third of nine “big” events on 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour calendar. In addition the Hamburg event, other SWATCH Major Series events will be held in Croatia (Porec, June 29-July 3), Switzerland (Gstaad, July 6-10) and Austria (Klagenfurt, July 27-31). The SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals will be held September 13-18 at a site to be determined.
Two of the four FIVB World Tour Grand Slam stops have been completed in Rio de Janeiro (March 8-13 on iconic Copacabana) and Moscow (May 24-29). The final two events will be staged in Poland (Olsztyn, June 14-19) and the United States (Long Beach, August 23-28).
With the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour being season No. 30 since the start of internationally-sanctioned events in 1987 on a beach in Rio de Janeiro, Hamburg now becomes the 168th site to host a FIVB events and the second location in Germany. Berlin has hosted 15 men’s (1995-1999, 2001-2005, 2007-2008, 2012-14) and nine women’s (2000, 2003-2005, 2007-2008 and 2012-2014) events.
Hamburg has hosted three European Tour events (2006-2008) highlighted by the 2008 continental championships where two of next week’s performers topped the podium in the mid-July event. Ludwig and then-partner Sarah Goller Niedrig defeated Norwegians Nila Ann Hakedal/Ingrid Torlen for the women’s crown.
Reinder Nummerdor, who is now playing with Christiaan Varenhorst, captured the men’s gold medal with Richard Schuill as the Dutch pair defeated Germany’s Kay Matysik and Stefan Uhmann in the finals. Matysik is now playing with Jonathan Erdmann as the pair competed in the London 2012 Olympic Games together and are contenders for spots in Rio where their 2016 Copacabana spot could be confirmed in Hamburg.
Host Germany will have 16 men’s and women’s teams competing in the Hamburg Major where seven teams have already secured spots in the “money” rounds lied by Ludwig/Walkenhorst and Erdmann/Matysik. The other nine pairs will compete in the preliminary rounds Tuesday vying for Main Draw berths.
Joining Ludwig/Walkenhorst in the women’s Main draw are Karla Borger/Britta Buthe, Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler and Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude. Attempting to qualify for the “money” rounds are Lisa Arnholdt/Anni Schumacher, Victoria Bieneck/Julia Grossner, Sandra Ittlinger/Yanina Weiland and Teresa Mersmann/Isabel Schneider.
Markus Bockermann and Lars Fluggen, who are currently tied at No. 14 with Erdmann/Matysik on the FIVB World Tour Olympic qualifying list where the top 15 pairs, excluding Brazilians with a maximum of two tandems per country, are in the Hamburg Major Main draw along with Bennet Poniewaz/Alexander Walkenhorst (Kira’s brother).
German players competing in the Hamburg preliminary rounds will be Armin Dollinger/Clemens Wickler, Sebastian Fuchs/Stefan Windscheif, Toni Hellmuth/Eric Stadie, Tim Holler/David Poniewaz and Lorenz Schumann/Julius Thole.