Host City: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date Started: August 6, 2016
Date Finished: August 18, 2016
Participants: 96 (48 men and 48 women) from 24 countries
Youngest Participant: Nada Meawad (18 years, 117 days)
Oldest Participant: Jake Gibb (40 years, 183 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 12 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): Brazil (2 medals)
If the backdrop of Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Westminster for the 2012 beach volleyball tournament in London were impressive, then the venue for the 2016 tournament was equally impressive, which was played in the 12,000-seater purpose built arena on the Copacabana Beach, with the famous Sugar Loaf Mountain in the background. This was only the second time, after Bondi Beach in 2000, that the beach volleyball competition has been played on a natural beach.
Although the sportâs roots are in the USA, beach volleyball is as synonymous with Brazil as much as football, and any talk of beach volleyball in Brazil leads inevitably to mention of the Copacabana Beach, along which there is row-upon-row of volleyball courts in regular use by Rio residents. Despite its pedigree, however, and being the leading Olympic beach volleyball medalists with 11, Brazil had won just two golds prior to the Rio Games, in 1996 (women) and 2004 (men). Being on home sand, and having the reigning menâs and womenâs world champions in their squads, Brazil looked like rectifying that situation. The women certainly went into the competition confident of gold as they occupied all three medal places at the 2015 World Championship in the Netherlands.
Matches were played to the best-of-three-sets amidst music and revelry. The first team to win 21 points (with at least a two-point margin) won the set. That applied to the first two sets only, if a third deciding set was needed, then it was the first to 15 â again with a minimum of a two-point margin. Seven countries made their dÃ©but in Rio: Chile, Qatar and Tunisia in the menâs events and Costa Rica, Egypt and Venezuela in the womenâs events while Poland qualified for both menâs and womenâs tournaments for the first time.
Surprisingly, despite the high expectations placed upon them, Brazil had only two finalists, one in each of the menâs and womenâs tournament and they won just one title, the menâs, thanks to [Alison Cerutti] and [Bruno Schmidt]. Americaâs [Kerri Walsh Jennings] was going for her fourth consecutive gold but had to settle for bronze. Germany won its first beach volleyball gold medal courtesy of [Laura Ludwig] and [Kira Walkenhorst] while [Daniele Lupo] and [Paolo Nicolai]âs menâs silver medal was Italyâs first ever medal in the sport. Brazil with one gold and one silver was the only nation to win more than one medal in Rio.