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Karla Borger & Sandra Ittlinger

Karla Borger & Sandra Ittlinger

Germany’s Karla Borger & Sandra Ittlinger and Switzerland’s Esmee Bobner & Zoe Verge-Depre regained some ground in the internal races for their countries’ Olympic quota that they had lost after the Doha Elite16. With their results from last week’s Recife Challenge on the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour, the two pairs are once again lined up as the second-ranked women’s teams of Germany and Switzerland on the way to Paris 2024.

Borger & Ittlinger finished fourth in Recife and that was enough to go back above compatriots Louisa Lippmann & Laura Ludwig in the provisional Olympic Ranking. They net-gained 460 of the 680 points that came with their fourth place towards a new total of 6,080 and are now 340 points above Lippmann & Ludwig, who did not compete in Recife. They also shortened the distance to Germany’s highest ranked duo Cinja Tillmann & Svenja Muller to 820 points.

That race is far from over as Lippmann & Ludwig have only played in 10 qualifying tournaments so far, which means they get to collect the full points from their next two events, while Borger & Ittlinger, with 14 appearances, are already well beyond the 12 tournaments that count. In addition, they also have to mind the international competition as they are close to the general cut-off for the Olympics.

Similarly, Esmee & Zoe lost some ground in the Swiss race at Doha, falling from the highest ranked to the third ranked team in the internal race, but by reaching the quarterfinals in Recife, they netted 200 of the 600 points received and surpassed the Tokyo 2020 Olympic bronze medallist pairing of Zoe’s sister Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Mader. Esmee & Zoe are now on 7,020 points in the provisional Olympic ranking, just 20 points above Verge-Depre & Mader and also just 80 points below the leading Swiss duo of Nina Brunner & Tanja Huberli, hinting at a red-hot race between the three teams in the coming weeks.

Canada’s Heather Bansley & Sophie Bukovec finished runners-up in Recife and narrowed the gap to the second ranked Canadian duo of Sarah Pavan & Molly McBain down to 1,880 points, but both teams are still below the general red line for Paris. While Pavan & McBain have one “free” tournament to add to their tally, Bansley & Bukovec have as many as four, so both pairs have a good shot at climbing up towards the coveted goal.

Meanwhile, Recife winners Anastasija Samoilova & Tina Graudina of Latvia, who are quite high up in the Olympic ranking and a pretty safe bet for Paris, regained ground in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Ranking, returning to the top 10, in position seven.

The men’s winners, Evandro Oliveira & Arthur Mariano of Brazil, also returned to the top 10 in the FIVB World Ranking, climbing to number nine. They zoomed in on the position of the highest placed Brazilian team in the provisional Olympic ranking, but are still 100 points below leaders Andre Stein & George Wanderley. More importantly, they widened the distance to their country’s next highest ranked contenders Renato Lima & Vitor Felipe, who are 1,840 points below, and Pedro Solberg & Gustavo Carvalhaes (Guto), who are another 20 points further down.

The other two medallists from Tenerife, Cuba’s Noslen Diaz & Jorge Alayo and England’s Joaquin Bello & Javier Bello, also improved their positions in the Olympic ranking and showed their solid potential to fight for the spots under the Eiffel Tower. Both are still below the cut-off line, but with plenty of ground to add to their totals as they are still far from the 12-tournament limit.

Recife semifinalists Chase Budinger & Miles Evans of the United States got closer the second ranked American duo, Trevor Crabb & Theodore Brunner, in the Olympic race for the US tickets. Budinger & Evans are now just 340 points below their compatriots.

Norway’s Mathias Berntsen & Hendrik Mol reached the 12-tournament milestone in Recife and are now officially eligible for an Olympic berth. Although both teams reached the Recife quarterfinals, Berntsen & Mol even surpassed Canada’s Daniel Dearing & Samuel Schachter in the Olympic ranking and crossed over the general red line into the list of those who would qualify, if the cut-off were today.