This summer beach volleyball will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the World Championships in Vienna, Austria.
A landlocked country it may be, but Austria has enjoyed a love affair with beach volleyball for over two decades. In 2001 the World Championships were hosted in Klagenfurt, a city in the south of the country, which is now steeped in beach volleyball folklore. Klagenfurt was once bestowed the title of beach volleyball capital of world and fans from all over the country would make the annual pilgrimage to the Carinthian town every summer.
If we turn the clocks back, though, the first World Championships were held in Los Angeles in 1997. Brazil took gold in both the men’s and women’s tournaments with Guilherme/Para clinching the first ever men’s title while Silva/Pires did the business for the women.
It was the same two years later in Marseille, France, as Brazil dominated once more by taking both gold medals.
In 2001 in Klagenfurt, Argentinians Mariano Baracetti and Martin Conde broke the Brazilian dominance but Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede secured back-to-back titles in the women’s division.
But in 2003 in Rio, things began to get interesting. Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May Treanor started their dominance on the beach by storming to the first of what would be an incredible three successive world titles.
Emanuel/Ricardo (2003) and Marcio/Fabio (2005) restored Brazil’s grip on the men’s division before Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser secured the United States’ first men’s American gold in Gstaad in 2007.
In 2009, the World Champs headed to Stavanger, Norway, where Germans Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann won gold – three years before they would go on and win the Olympic title in London in 2012. It was four in a row for the American women…but Kerri and Misty were overthrown by Jennifer Kessy and April Ross.
Brazil bounced back to form two years later in Rome, as Alison/Emanuel and Juliana/Larissa claimed top spot but in Stare Jablonki, Poland, in 2013 two new countries emerged as beach volleyball powerhouses as Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen, of the Netherlands, and Xue Chen and Zhang Xi, of China, claimed the titles.
However, you can never write off Brazil and two years ago in The Hague, Alison/Bruno and Agatha/Barbara made it another World Championships double for the South American nation – the fourth time in World Champs history the Brazilians have done the double.
So what does the future hold in Vienna? Can Alison/Bruno become the first men’s team to defend their title? Can Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst add this elusive tournament to their incredible list of achievements? Will the Austrian teams delight the thousands of fans on home sand?
Find out between July 28 and August 6!