Beach Volleyball, and particularly the women’s, is one of the most popular and most watched Olympic events and the competition in London set at the iconic venue the Horse Guards Parade it looks set to be one of the defining moments of the tournament. The gold medal match takes place on the 8th of August at 21.00 (GMT).
Beach Volleyball was virtually unheard of in China before the Beijing Olympics yet the Chinese managed to bag the silver and bronze medals. Since then, bronze medallists Zhang Xi and Xue Chen have enjoyed upped their game and are easily gained parity, if not surpassed the traditional powerhouses of the game, the USA and Brazil.
Maria Antonelli of Brazil
China has fallen in love with this sport and world number ones Zhang Xi and Xue Chen enjoy fanatical support at home in China and in the city of Sanya where they are based. Brazilian pairings Juliana Felisberta and Larissa Franca, and Maria Antonelli and Talita Antunes occupy the second and third ranked places respectively.
The USA pairing Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh will be looking to win three consecutive Olympic golds while the Brazilians, who have had to make do with silver for the last four Olympic finals will not be wanting for motivation.
Xi Zhang of China
As with all the outdoor sports the British Summer may well have a bearing on how the game is played, organisers have been work hard on getting the exact righ formaula of sand, a mix of variying-sized grains, to allow for a surface that will drain well and remain ‘fluffy’ and not compacting. Interestingly, if the spell of cold weather continues female competitors will be given to choice to cover up with long pants and sleeves, which may deny a large (male) part of the audience the chance to appreciate the athlete’s ‘attributes’, which have helped make the tickets for the Women’s Beach Volleyball final some of the most sought-after of the whole tournament. Then again, covering up may not be such a bad thing as the focus will then well and truly be on the game itself.
China's Xue Chen
By Hugo Mc Cafferty