Lausanne, Switzerland, May 10, 2020 – Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen have been a firm fixture on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour ever since they won gold at the Mazury 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships.
The Dutch duo’s success on the banks of Lake Mazury propelled them into the beach volleyball consciousness, but earlier in the season the pair had far more modest aims.
Their target was to reach the quarterfinals of at least one World Tour event, that way they would qualify for a higher level of funding from the Dutch Olympic Committee.
“I just can’t figure this out, unbelievable,” Meeuwsen said after the gold medal match. “It is going to take a few weeks before it sinks in. I never believed, not until we scored the last point of the final.”
They triumphed with a 2-0 (21-18, 21-16) victory over Brazil’s Ricardo Santos and Alvaro Filho, and later picked up silver from the Shanghai Grand Slam before the end of the year.
Brouwer and Meeuwsen struggled with injuries in 2014 and their best finish was the quarterfinals at the Long Beach Grand Slam.
They quickly found their form in 2015. Silver at the Fuzhou and Lucerne Opens was followed by gold at the Porec Major Series event, and they added another bronze to round off the year in Gstaad.
However, they finished a disappointing 17th at their home World Championships when the final took place outside the parliament building in The Hague. But with the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games on the horizon they opened the Olympic year with bronze at the Rio de Janeiro Grand Slam that served as the Olympic test event.
World Tour silver and bronze followed before Brouwer and Meeuwsen made their Olympic debuts. They dropped one set in their three pool victories, and then knocked out Canada’s Chaim Schalk and Ben Saxton in the round of 16.
Victory set up an all-Dutch clash against Reinder Nummerdor and Christiaan Varenhorst and after a tense first set, they dominated the second to reach the semifinals with a 2-0 (25-23, 21-17) victory.
There they faced local favourites and reigning champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt. They pushed the Brazilians hard, but it wasn’t enough to silence the Copacabana crowd who celebrated Alison and Bruno’s 2-1 (21-17, 21-23, 16-14) win.
The bronze medal match gave them the chance to leave Rio with a medal and they responded with a strong showing to defeat Russia’s Konstantin Semenov and Viacheslav Krasilnikov 2-0 (23-21, 22-20) and book their place on the Olympic podium.
“Our world champs’ gold medal in 2013 was already a big step in beach volleyball,” Brouwer said. “Hosting the world champs last year was another big step. I think this (winning the bronze medal) is the next big step forward for beach volleyball in the Netherlands.”
Since then gold at the 2018 Doha 4-Star was one of their best achievements, and they have won medals at six other World Tour events, as well as bronze at the 2018 European Championships.
One of those medals was bronze at the Tokyo 4-Star. Like with Rio four years earlier, it was the Olympic test event, which goes to show that despite their fluctuating fortunes since Rio 2016, they are likely to be as competitive as ever when the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games eventually take place.
“It is going to be tough in these conditions,” Meeuwsen said after the bronze medal match. “I think it’s the hottest we’ve ever played in. We were prepared for it and we’re going to be prepared next year. I’m really looking forward to it.”
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