The week after successfully hosting the FIVB U21 Beach Volleyball World Championships in Roi Et, Thailand is set to organize another big event in its sands, the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge tournament in Chiang Mai from November 16 through 19. It is the ninth Challenge event of the season and the third in a row to take place on the Asian continent, after Goa in India and Haikou in China.
Beach Pro Tour’s Asian leg continues in Thailand with this week’s Chiang Mai Challenge
Published 07:22, 15 Nov 2023
The upcoming Challenge tournament will be the highest-level Beach Pro Tour event Thailand has organized so far, after the Southeast Asian country welcomed the Songkhla Futures in April 2022 and the Satun Futures in April 2023. Previously, Thailand hosted a number of FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour events and has a long history of holding age-category World Championships.
This week’s battles will unfold at the Chaloem Prakiat Park in the city of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, further expanding the geography of world-level beach volleyball competitions held in the country and adding to a long list of venues like Phuket, Satun, Pattaya, Bangkok, Roi Et, Songkhla, Udon Thani and Bang Saen.
The 2023 Chiang Mai Challenge will get underway on Thursday morning at 09:00 local time (02:00 UTC). The first competition day will offer the qualification battles in two knockout rounds with eight available main draw vacancies per gender at stake.
As of the time of publication, a total of 89 teams from 28 different countries are set to battle it out for their share of the USD 150,000 prize purse and for valuable FIVB World Ranking and Olympic qualification points. 16 teams per gender are pre-seeded to enter the 24-duo main draw line-up directly. The knockout qualifications will fill up the remaining eight vacancies. The main draw teams will be split into six pools, with the pool winners, the pool runners-up and the two best ranked third-placed teams advancing directly to the eighthfinals. The remaining four third-placed teams will move on to a playoff round to complete the last 16 line-up.
Big Brazilian star Agatha Bednarczuk (pictured in the main photo), a 2015 world champion and a 2016 Olympic silver medallist, and her current teammate Rebecca Cavalcanti lead the women’s line-up on entry points. While France’s Lezana Placette & Alexia Richard and Poland’s Jagoda Gruszczynska & Aleksandra Wachowicz complete the top three, the women’s entry list also contains the names of 2019 world champion Sarah Pavan and her teammate Molly McBain of Canada, 2013 FIVB World Championship silver medallist Karla Borger and her partner Sandra Ittlinger of Germany, in addition to a number of other established or rising stars of international beach volleyball.
The Austrian pairing of Julian Horl & Alexander Horst headlines the men’s entry list for Chiang Mai. 40-year-old Horst is a three-time Olympian and a 2017 World Championship silver medallist. Next on entry points are Dutch talents Steven van de Velde & Matthew Immers and the impressive Spanish duo of five-time Olympian and Athens 2004 silver medallist Pablo Herrera and three-time Olympian Adrian Gavira. Among the many well-known names further down the list are three-time Olympian and Rio 2016 silver medallist Daniele Lupo of Italy, alongside Enrico Rossi, three-time Olympian and London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Martins Plavins of Latvia, together with rising star Kristians Fokerots, and three-time Olympian and three-time World Tour season champion Aleksandrs Samoilovs, also of Latvia, in a tandem with his younger brother Mihails.