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Guto and Pedro will be looking to gain ground on their Brazilian opponents this week in Recife

After the top beach volleyball teams on the planet opened the 2024 international season in an Elite16 event in Doha earlier this month, the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour now heads to Brazil, for back-to-back weeks of action.

The capital of the state of Pernambuco, the city of Recife will host the first Challenge event of the season this week, from Thursday to Sunday, with matches taking place at the Pina Beach, the same location that staged a Brazilian Tour stop this past weekend. It will mark the first time that the city hosts an international event since an FIVB World Tour stop back in 1996.

· Watch the Recife Challenge live on VBTV.

Although most of the teams that appear in the top ten of the FIVB Olympic Rankings won’t be in action this week in Brazil, the Recife Challenge could bring significant consequences to duos that are currently fighting for a spot at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

In each gender, 17 spots will be obtained through the Olympic ranking until the June 9 deadline and high-level Beach Pro Tour events offer plenty of precious points towards that ranking.

Internal battles to watch in Recife

Traditional beach volleyball nations typically have their own race inside the Olympic race as several teams compete among themselves to fill the maximum of two spots per country allowed in the Games. Some interesting chapters of these battles will be taking place this week in Recife.

The American men’s internal competition is definitely one to watch as the three best-ranked teams from the country are all within 980 points of difference entering this week’s event in Brazil. Andy Benesh and Miles Partain are relatively safe with 7,620 points and just ten out of 12 finishes considered, but they won’t be playing this week in Recife and could see their opponents gain ground on them.

The battle for the second American berth has been brutal and can get even more interesting this week, with the two contending teams starting the Challenge event in the main draw – Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner, with 7,220 points, and Miles Evans and Chase Budinger, with 6,640. Olympian Tri Bourne and Chaim Schalk appear as a distant fourth now with 6,180, but could see themselves back in the mix with a good finish – they will start in the qualifier, though.

Hosts Brazil will also see new developments in their internal battle this week. First and second-seeded Andre Loyola/George Wanderley and Evandro Gonçalves/Arthur Lanci are well-positioned entering the event, with 8,440 and 8,000 points respectively, but could start seeing Pedro Solberg and Gustavo ‘Guto’ Carvalhaes in their rearview depending on how things unfold over the next two weeks.

Pedro and Guto, who also start in the main draw, are considerably behind with 6,080 points, but have played only ten tournaments in the qualification period, meaning that every point they earn in the next two events will be added to their total. If they manage to win both the Recife and the Saquarema Challenges, for example, they would get to 7,680 points, potentially bringing the difference to just around 300 points.

Among the women, Switzerland fans will have a lot to follow until June, with their three top teams currently being separated by less than 300 points. Nina Brunner and Tanja Hüberli, who have 7,100, won’t play this week in Brazil and will be looking to add points in their next event, as they only have 11 eligible results to date.

They could, however, end the week behind the other two Swiss teams that plan on qualifying for Paris as Anouk Vergé-Dépré/Joana Mäder and Zoé Vergé-Dépré/Esmée Böbner will both start in the main draw and have 6,940 and 6,820 points, respectively.

Sandra Ittlinger and Karla Borger will have a huge opportunity to pass Laura Ludwig and Louisa Lippmann, who won’t play in Recife, and return to the second spot among German teams. The two have 5,620 points against 5,740 of their compatriots. Svenja Müller and Cinja Tillmann are the top German duo in the race so far with 6,900 points.

Teams in the ‘bubble’ look to score big

The Recife Challenge will also provide teams that are barely inside or just outside the qualification zone with an opportunity to earn precious points and improve their situations in regard to Olympic qualification.

Austria’s Julian Hörl/Alexander Horst (7,060 points) and Robin Seidl/Moritz Pristauz (6,340), Chile’s Marco Grimalt/Esteban Grimalt (6,640) and Canada’s Sam Schachter/Dan Dearing (5,600) are some of the teams that could benefit from a strong finish this week in Brazil.

Among the women, Finland’s Taru Lathi/Niina Athiainen (6,160), Lithuania’s Monika Paulikiene/Aine Raupelyte (6,160), Poland’s Jagoda Gruszczynska/Aleksandra Wachowicz (5,720) and Czechia’s Barbora Hermannová/Marie-Sára Štocholová (5,620) are some of the teams in this situation.

Action begins on Thursday

The action in Recife begins on Thursday, with 32 teams in each gender competing in the qualifier. The top eight men’s and women’s duos will earn the right to appear in the main draw, which is set to start on Friday in Brazil. The medal matches will be held on Sunday.

Recife Challenge – Men’s Entry List
Recife Challenge – Women’s Entry List

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