Golden day for Qatar

Cherif and Jefferson top 2016 Iranian podium

With Qatar hosting two FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour events in the coming month, this week in FIVB history is highlighted by the Arabian Peninsula country’s only gold medal victory five years ago on the international beach volleyball circuit.

Seeded 18th in the US$75,000 Kish Island Open in Iran, Cherif Samba and Jefferson Santos Pereira posted a 2-1 (21-13, 14-21, 15-12) win in 39 minutes over 11th-seeded Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Artem Yarzutkin of Russia to secure the gold medal on February 19, 2016.

The victory helped secure Cherif and Jefferson’s spot in the Rio 2016 Olympic games as the Qatari pair posted three Kish Island wins over Copacabana participants, including two triumphs over Lombardo Ontiveros/Juan Virgen of Mexico (pool play and quarterfinals) and Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak of Poland (semifinals).

While the Kish medal was Cherif and Jefferson’s only podium in 21 World Tour events together (2015-2018), the Qataris did advance to the quarterfinals together at the 2015 FIVB World Championships in the Netherlands where the 27th-seeded pair was eliminated by Americans Theo Brunner and Nick Lucena in two sets.

Qatar's Jefferson Santos Pereira (left) and Cherif Younousse celebrate at the 2015 FIVB World Championships

For Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin, the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic champions, the Kish Island medal was the first of three podium placements for the young Russians. Overall, Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin compiled a 54-52 match mark in 26 World Tour events together with four final fours prior to their 21st birthdays.

Kish Island 2016 silver medal winners Artem Yarzutkin (left) and Oleg Stoyanovskiy of Russia

Here are other World Tour gold medal winners during the February 14-20 period.

February 14

In 1993, Adam Johnson and Kent Steffes of the United States won the Rio de Janeiro Open. It was the first and only FIVB World Tour win for the team.

In 1993, Karolyn Kirby and Nancy Reno of the United States won the Rio de Janeiro Open. It was the second and final FIVB World Tour win for the team.

Nancy Reno (left) and Karolyn Kirby of the United States

February 15

In 1998, Ze Marco de Melo and Ricardo Santos of Brazil won the Rio de Janeiro Open. It was the first of 11 FIVB World Tour wins for the team.

Ze Marco de Melo (right) and Ricardo Santos of Brazil

February 16

In 1997, Monica Rodrigues and Adriana Samuel of Brazil won the Rio de Janeiro Open. It was the third of six FIVB World Tour wins for the team.

February 18

In 1990, Sinjin Smith and Randy Stoklos won the Rio de Janeiro Open. It was the fourth of 10 FIVB World Tour wins for the team.

In 2017, Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Nikita Liamin of Russia won the Kish Island Open. It was the first of two FIVB World Tour wins for the team.

February 19

In 1995, Andre Gomes and Carlos Loss of Brazil won the Rio de Janeiro Open. It was the first and only FIVB World Tour win for the team.

Six beach volleyball Olympians celebrate birthdays this week, including two-time Summer Games silver medal winner Adriana Behar. Adriana celebrates her 52nd birthday today along with American Olympian Elaine Youngs, who turns 51.

Adriana ranks fifth all-time individually in women’s medals won on the World Tour with 86 as she and Shelda Bede top the list for team podium placements for both women and men with 85. Adriana and Shelda also captured FIVB World Championship titles in 1999 at Marseille and 2001 in Klagenfurt with a silver medal in 2003 at Rio and a bronze in 1997 at Los Angeles.

Beach volleyball legends in the crowd Shelda Bede (left) and Adriana Behar watch the great action

Three-time Olympian Elaine Youngs of the United States also celebrates her birthday Sunday as the two-time Summer Games participant turns 51. Youngs captured the bronze medal with Holly McPeak at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games after losing in the semifinals to eventual champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings. Four years later, Youngs and Nicole Branagh placed fifth at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

An Atlanta 1996 indoor Olympian for the United States, Youngs captured 12 World Tour gold medals with four different partners. May-Treanor and McPeak edged Youngs and Liz Masakayan for the final American berth at the Sydney beach Olympics at the last qualifying event in China.

American Elaine Youngs stretches for the ball at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

Other beach Olympians with birthdays this week are Americans Deb Richardson (60) and Italian Eugenio Amore (49) on Wednesday, and China’s Chen Xue (32) and Australians Nicole Laird (28) on Thursday.

Richardson, who placed on two FIVB World Tour podiums in 1995 with Karolyn Kirby, qualified for the Atlanta 1996 Summer Games with Gail Castro Kehl where the pair placed ninth. As a replacement for Matteo Varnier at the 2008 Olympics, Amore placed 19th with Riccardo Lione in Beijing.

Eugeno Amore of Italy at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

Xue and Zhang Xi collected the bronze medal at the Beijing 2008 Summer Games followed by a fourth-place at the London 2012 Olympics where the Chinese pair dropped their final two matches to May-Treanor/Walsh Jennings and Brazilians Juliana Felisberta/Larissa Franca.

2013 FIVB world champions Xue Che (left) and Zhang Xi from China

In 2013, Xue and Zhang captured the gold medal at the FIVB World Championships in Poland, with a gold medal the next weekend in Switzerland in the final World Tour event for the Chinese pair. Xue and Zhang rank fourth all-time for women’s podium placements (38) as the duo combined to win 15 golds, 12 silvers and 11 silver in 81 FIVB events together.

Like Xue, Laird is still competing on the international beach volleyball circuit with Becchara Palmer. While Xue is ranked 31st on the World Tour with Wang Xinxin, Laird and Palmer are No. 40. After placing 19th at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with Mariafe Artacho del Solar, Laird and Palmer captured the 2019 Sydney Open on Manly Beach together.

2019 Syndey Open winners on Manly Beach - Nicole Laird (left) and Becchara Palmer of Australia
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