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It was arguably the most amazing season in Anders Mol and Christian Sorum’s journey as a team so far. In 2021, the formidable Norwegian team may not have won as many medals as they did in 2019 or in 2018, but they topped the podiums at all the big events, including the biggest, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

What makes their year even more amazing is that the BeachVolley Vikings did not dominate throughout. They had a long down period and even lost the number one spot in the FIVB World Ranking they had owned for years, but right when it mattered the most they found the strength to pull themselves out of that hole and triumph as Olympic champions, European champions and World Tour Finals champions for a spectacular ending to the season.

Mol skipped the first FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour 4-star event in 2021 for medical reasons, but right after he and Sorum reunited, the team started the year with a couple of routine victories claiming gold at two of the three Cancun tournaments.

But then all of a sudden something went inexplicably wrong. The Norwegians finished 17th in Sochi, ninth in Ostrava and fifth in Gstaad, when everyone expected more from them ahead of the biggest event of the year, the Tokyo Games. They seemed to be struggling even in the early stages of the Olympic tournament. Not looking confident enough on the sand court at Shiokaze Park, Mol and Sorum only made it to the knockouts as pool runners-up.

“It is hard to say why. We’d love to know why we were off,” 24-year-old blocker Mol told Volleyball World. “It’s a game of confidence, a really mental game, and if you’re not 100% on, then you’re not able to play at your best level. We were struggling with finding our rhythm. We felt a little off. I would love to know the reason, but I really don’t.”

But once they had made it past the pool stage in Tokyo, Mol and Sorum were obviously back for the full monty. With Mol owning the net, especially in blocking, and Sorum shining in both defence and offence, the Vikings did not drop a single set in their next four matches, marching on to the Olympic gold.

“It feels unreal! We’ve been working for this so hard and for so long! It’s been our dream for so many years. Becoming the youngest Olympic champions is really a dream come true and I don’t think we really realize what we have done right now. It’s surreal!” Mol said after the 2-0 (21-17, 21-18) win over reigning world champions Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy in the Olympic final.

“It’s really amazing! It’s been our dream for so long,” confirmed Sorum. “Three years ago I took a screenshot of the Olympic gold medal from Rio and I put it on my phone and I’ve looked at that medal every day since. To stand here with a gold medal, together with Anders and the rest of our team, is amazing. And also to be on the podium with Russia and Qatar is also huge for us, because we are good friends and we all work hard and push each other and where we are today is also because of each other. I’m just really happy and I can’t believe it!”

The Olympic title marked a glorious peak in Mol and Sorum’s season, but the season was far from over. Shortly after Tokyo, they went to Vienna to defend their continental title at the CEV European Championship. 16 sets or six victories later, the Norwegians celebrated their fourth back-to-back EuroBeachVolley gold.

“We’re really happy we’re going home with another victory here in Vienna. We had one goal before this tournament and it was to win this title. Understanding what we have accomplished will take some time to sink in. It’s hard to believe we just won the Olympic gold and now a fourth EuroBeachVolley title!” the Vikings exclaimed after the final in Austria.

A couple of months later, Mol and Sorum took to the sand court in Cagliari for their last tournament of the year, the World Tour Finals. Battling through tough matches against some of the best teams in the world, the Norwegians went on to top that podium as well and regained the World Tour Finals title after first claiming it back in 2018. That was the Vikings’ 14th World Tour gold medal, which made them the single most decorated European pair in the history of the Tour.

“Luckily, we are on top in the end,” said Mol after he and Sorum snatched a thrilling 2-0 (22-20, 23-21) victory over Czechia’s Ondrej Perusic and David Schweiner in the gold medal game in Sardinia. “The Czech guys have been almost unbeatable, so we knew we really had to bring our best game. It’s been a long season and now we can take a well-deserved vacation and then get ready for the new Tour. We’re super excited about that!”