Lausanne, Switzerland, July 13, 2020 – Barbora Hermannova and Marketa Slukova are a team that have hit the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour heights and, after a frustrating few months, are working their way back to the top.
In September 2019, the leading Czech duo narrowly missed out on a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games when they finished third at the qualification tournament in Haiyang, China.
Earlier in the year they were forced to pull out of the Hamburg 2019 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships just days before the start of the tournament when Slukova broke her toe.
Barbora Hermannova and Marketa Slukova have been participating in the Tipsport Beach Series 2020 in their home country.
“I am extremely sad and heartbroken,” Slukova said at the time. “I can’t even describe the disappointment right now.
“For 10 years I have done everything to travel to a World Championships as a number one and having a shot to win a medal. This year it looked like that but then this happened. My coach is right, there is too much at stake.”
However, with her country among the first European nations to begin lifting restrictions after the COVID-19 outbreak, they can recommence their pursuit of a place at the rearranged Tokyo 2020.
Currently they are joint 17th in the provisional FIVB Olympic Rankings but have not yet played the required number of tournaments to qualify.
“We can’t deny that we feel the nine-months gap since we last played,” Hermannova said. “We still have lots to work on.”
Slukova, 32, and Hermannova, 29, have played together since August 2015 and it did not take them long to make an impact on the World Tour with victory at the Antalya Open in Turkey in October 2015.
Slukova had played with Krystina Kolocova since 2006 and won two FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour golds together. Hermannova had been in tandem with Martina Bonnerova from 2010 with whom she had claimed one World Tour gold.
Less than a year on from their first World Tour gold they qualified for their first Olympics as a team and Slukova’s second, having played with Krystina Kolocova at London 2012.
They left it late and qualified with less than a month before the start of the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games when they secured one of the last two places on offer by triumphing at the FIVB World Continental Cup Olympic Qualification in Sochi.
In Rio they made it through the pool stage and into the lucky losers round but were eliminated by Russian pair Ekaterina Birlova and Evgenia Ukolova.
The next year Slukova and Hermannova continued to develop on the World Tour and won a silver and bronze in 2017.
In 2018 they hit their stride and ended their wait for a second gold which came in front of their home fans at the Ostrava 4-Star. Just over a month later they won their first 5-Star gold when they topped the podium in Vienna.
It showed their potential and if they can qualify for their second Olympic Games together, then they will be confident that they can make their mark in Japan’s capital.
“I feel very good about it,” Slukova said after she and Hermannova retuned to training as a pair.
“We've been playing together for so long that the connection is there, so whether it's two days or two months it almost doesn't matter at this stage.”
Talking about their current activities, Slukova said: "We spent the pandemic quarantine time separated. I was in Los Angeles, USA while Barbora was in Prague. We were focusing on physical preparation so that once the opportunity to play arose we would be ready to complete.
"The opportunity came pretty soon after I returned back to Prague in the middle of May as our main sponsor Tipsport stepped up and together with our federation created a tour consisting of five stops, five weekends in a row. We played at the first three events and managed to win all of them. After playing our last real match only in September 2019 it was really exciting to step on a court and to compete again.
"The last two events we withdrew from due to health issues for me. I wasn’t injured but sick and we did not want to put anyone including me in danger in this strange coronavirus time. Now we are back on the court, training and preparing for our national championship and for the European Championship which takes place in Latvia in September.
"We are trying to use the forced competition break and the extra time we won by the postponement of the Olympics to work on certain parts of our game which otherwise we wouldn’t have had time to work on."