Former France indoor volleyball international Julien Lyneel will make his first appearance on the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour at the highest possible level, when the Paris Elite16 tournament takes place at Roland-Garros stadium from September 28 to October 2.
Indoor star Lyneel to make Beach Pro Tour debut at Paris Elite16
New pair of French indoor-to-beach converts target home Olympics in two years
Published 08:30, 15 Sep 2022
The 32-year-old star, whose last appearance with the French national team jersey was at the Volleyball Nations League 2021, just weeks before Les Bleus triumphed at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, will now chase his Olympic dream with another indoor-to-beach convert, 23-year-old Remi Bassereau.
"I had been thinking about it for a few years. I knew that I would return to the sand towards the end of my career. I just didn't know when,” Lyneel told ffvb.org, the French federation’s website. “It came naturally during the last season. I said to myself, ‘it's a crazy project and I want to take it on’. And the beach is where I learned to play volleyball. When I was a little boy, it was the discipline I played first. It has always been special. The competitions I participated in as a youngster were memorable. I wanted to taste that again sooner or later."
"I had also been thinking about it for a long time,” said Bassereau. “What made me decide was the Olympic Games in Paris."
Lyneel and Bassereau teamed up in early June, after a successful indoor season for both players. Bassereau won the CEV Challenge Cup with Narbonne Volley, while Lyneel claimed the national title in France with Montpellier Castelnau Volley. They were both outside hitters on the hard floor, but in the sand, 1.92m-tall Lyneel will be in charge of defence, while 1.94m-tall Bassereau will take care of blocking.
"I had ideas about the blocker I wanted to play with. I didn't know Remi, but I had already seen him play indoors. With his qualities, he matched the profile I was looking for perfectly,” said Lyneel. “And then it came from him. It was he who called me and I really liked this approach. He wanted to know my feelings, my motivation. And it was an immediate match. I usually follow my instinct in volleyball, and in life, and it has gone well so far."
"I knew Julien had played, that he had a good reputation as a defender and a good temperament for the beach," Bassereau added. “What's good is that we both play in the six positions indoors, touching on a little bit of everything. So the transition should be easier.”
Both Lyneel and Bassereau experienced international beach volleyball in their youth, representing France at various age-category championships. Julien played at two editions of the FIVB Beach Volleyball U19 World Championships, finishing ninth in 2006 and fifth in 2007. He also finished fifth at the 2007 FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championship, earned silver at the 2007 CEV U20 European Championship, two bronze medals at the U18 European Championships in 2006 and 2007, and a ninth place at the U23 European Championship in 2007. Remi was a U18 European champion in 2015. In 2016, he took a U18 continental bronze and reached the semifinals of the U19 World Championship.
To be able to make their international debut as a pair at such a high level, the new duo received a home team main draw wild card from the Paris Elite16 organisers. They will start their campaign with a game against the world’s number two team, Michal Bryl and Bartosz Losiak of Poland, at 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT) on September 29 on centre court. The world’s third-ranked pair, Dutch standouts Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen, will also be among their opponents in Pool D.
"We will have to prove that we have our place at the Olympic Games, that we can compete with the best teams in the world,” said Lyneel. “It's been 15 years since there was a major beach volleyball tournament like this in France. It's nice to put beach volleyball back in the spotlight. I really encourage people to come and see this tournament. I think it's going be a great event and a great show."
The long-term goal for Lyneel and Bassereau is, of course, the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. As the host country, France will hope to have as many teams as possible representing it at the tournament.
"Who doesn't dream of the Olympics? We want a ticket to go and play at the foot of the Eiffel Tower!" said Lyneel.
In his indoor national team career, Julien Lyneel won FIVB Volleyball World League gold in 2015 and 2017 and bronze in 2016. Later on, he added a 2018 silver and a 2021 bronze in the VNL. He was also a 2015 European champion, but never took part in the Olympic Games. In his club career, he played for teams from France, Poland, Italy and China.
Remi Bassereau was a youth and junior national volleyball team member. In 2017, he took silver at the European Youth Olympic Festival. His team also finished fifth at the FIVB Volleyball Boys’ U19 World Championship.