Challenge - Recife, BRA - 2024 - Beach Pro Tour 2024 season - News

Evandro Arthur Recife 2403

Evandro and Arthur took the title with five wins in six matches

Brazilians Evandro Gonçalves and Arthur Lanci got one step closer to the Paris 2024 Olympics with their victory at this weekend’s Volleyball Beach Pro Tour Challenge event held in Recife. The home team topped the podium at the Praia do Pina on Sunday, having Cubans Jorge Alayo and Noslen Díaz in second place and the English Bello twins Joaquin and Javier in third.

Latvians Tina Graudina and Anastasija Samoilova were the winners of the women’s event in Brazil, being flanked by Canadians Sophie Bukovec and Heather Bansley and Lithuanians Monika Paulikiene and Aine Raupelyte at the podium.

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Evandro and Arthur took full advantage of their first home event in the international season, securing gold and invaluable 800 Olympic ranking points with their triumph in Recife, which was confirmed with a 2-0 (21-15, 21-18) win over Alayo and Díaz in front of a packed center court.

The Brazilians did a very good job of recovering from a difficult start in the tournament as, after falling to the Argentinean Capogrosso brothers Nicolas and Tomas in their opening match, the two won five straight duels to top the podium.

A Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympian, the 33-year-old Evandro, who made his professional beach volleyball debut in Recife over a decade ago, and his partner Arthur continue their firm path to qualify for Paris 2024. The two entered the event in sixth place in the FIVB Olympic Rankings and could see their Brazilian rivals in the race close the gap this week, but prevented that from happening with a big victory in front of their home fans.

“It’s always special to play in Brazil and have the fans by our side,” Evandro reacted. “This stadium has been packed since the Brazilian Tour event last week and the energy on the court has been amazing, we can only thank the fans for that. It’s a big win for us, but we’ll celebrate for just a couple of days and then turn our focus to the next event.”

This week’s victory in Recife was the second earned by the duo on Brazilian soil as last year they triumphed in Saquarema, the host city of the next Beach Pro Tour Challenge event, next week.

Also earning important points in the dispute to play at the feet of the Eiffel Tower in a few months were the Bello twins, who needed points to climb some spots in the rankings and got 720 of them with their third-place finish, secured with a 2-1 (26-24, 15-21, 15-13) victory over Americans Miles Evans and Chase Budinger in the bronze medal match.

**Recife Challenge - Final Results**

Latvians maintain good form

Tina and Anastasija secured the women’s title in Brazil with a campaign of six victories, which was completed with a sweep (21-18, 21-17) of Canadians Bukovec and Bansley in the gold medal match on Sunday afternoon.

“This victory shows that hard work pays off,” Tina reacted. “We were able to use a lot of things we did in practice during the tournament and it worked really well for us. Playing in Brazil is a pure pleasure. The beach volleyball essence is here, with the heat, the people, the sun, it’s amazing.”

The Latvians were already well-positioned to appear in their second Olympics entering the Recife Challenge, occupying sixth place with 8,220 points, and the 800 points collected with their title in Brazil will further boost their chances of qualifying.

The victory in Brazil also marks the third semifinal appearance in the last four Beach Pro Tour events for the Europeans, who took gold at the Nuvali Challenge, in December, and finished fourth at the season-opening Doha Elite16, two weeks ago.

“Right now, it’s important that we get to play as much as we can, so it was great that we got to be on the court until the last day here in Brazil,” Anastasija told Volleyball World. “We just want to get more experiences and to have this feeling a few more times so we can prepare the best way we can. It was a pleasure to play here and see the fans lining up outside the stadium at six in the morning to watch.”

The bronze medal match reunited two teams that are also directly involved in the fight to qualify for Paris 2024 and saw Paulikiene and Raupelyte claim extremely important points with their 2-1 (21-14, 17-21, 15-9) victory.

The Lithuanians started the event in 16th place in the Olympic Rankings and should move up with the 720 points they earned in Recife.

The battle to qualify for this summer’s Olympics is set to have another chapter in Brazil as the country will host another Beach Pro Tour Challenge event next week, with teams heading south to Saquarema, where they will compete from Thursday to Sunday.

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