Olympic hopefuls look to make their mark on Cook Islands



Even though there’s nothing riding on this week’s Oceania Olympic qualification tournament in the Cook Islands for Australia, four teams who are hoping to make it to Rio next year are looking to make a statement.

The Cook Islands event acts as a qualifier for the Asian Olympic qualifiers next year, but as host nation Australia will be guaranteed starts.

Four Australian teams, two men and two women, are competing at Raratonga, including Australia’s world U23 champions, Nikki Laird and Mariafe Artacho del Solar.

“This tournament is the best opportunity to prepare for the Asian Continental Cup in June next year, as its the only other time we'll play a tournament of the same style,” Laird said.

“We're going into it with the same approach we'd look to take in the final tournament, so we can see what areas we still need the most improvement in to be successful when it really counts.”

Australia’s top-rated women’s team of Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy are practically guaranteed a Rio position because of their current world ranking, throwing the race wide open for a potential second Australian team.

2012 Olympian, Becchara Palmer, who played with Bawden in London, is playing with Queensland’s Jordan Mowen in Raratonga.

“I think that although we are still a fairly new pairing, we made some good progress on the Asian Tour so we would like to build on from that,” Mowen said.

“It is also a very new but exciting experience to be playing as a "big" team with the other girls, so we would like to contribute our best performance so we can all reap the benefits.”

In the men’s competition, former Danish international Bo Soderberg and Perth’s Cole Durant will be looking to build on their exciting early results since coming together as a pair in recent months.

“It's a really cool format because it's not just about me or my team, it's about the greater Australian team and the whole sport of beach volleyball in Australia,” Durant said.

“Earning an Olympic spot is very important for our sport’s future, and of course winning this tournament puts us in the best position to win the golden ticket in June.

“I feel a bigger sense of selflessness or responsibility to perform well for our country but still just excited to compete against quality opposition in an amazing country. I'm looking forward to just stepping on court, battling it out and hopefully representing Australia with pride.”

Australia’s second men’s team, Melbourne-based Joshua Court and Damien Schumann, will be looking to build on some reasonable recent results in Indonesia and Turkey.

The Australian teams begin their Oceania campaigns on Wednesday, Australian time.




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Schwartz family join Volleyball Australia team


Jerry Schwartz aims to revive Sydney 2000 spirit with partnership of Australian Volleyball.

13 October 2015: Tourism and hospitality entrepreneur, Dr Jerry Schwartz, announced today that the Schwartz Family Company would become a major sponsor of Volleyball Australia as the sport attempts to revive the highs achieved during the 2000 Olympics.

The sponsorship was announced today at Parliament House, with NSW Premier Mike Baird welcoming Dr Schwartz's support for the sport as it gears up to challenge for gold in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Dr Schwartz, who is Australia's largest private owner of hotels in Australia, is already a major sporting supporter, keen philanthropist and supporter of charities across the State.

The sponsorship will cover all aspects of volleyball - indoor and beach volleyball, women's, men's and junior.

He joins other major partners of the sport including Mrs Gina Rinehart and Bendon Lingerie manufacturer, Eric Watson.

"Who can forget the impact our women's beach volleyball team made to the success of Sydney's Olympic Games in 2000?" said Dr Schwartz.

"The tournament captured everything that is good about Sydney and as we head down the road to Rio, we need to recapture that spirit and vitality. A successful competition on the sand in Rio will be an enormous advertisement for Australia's beach and sporting culture.

"Our beach volleyball team is ranked in the top 5 in the world, and with extra resources we can get back to our gold status.

"In particular, this support will boost women's sport. So much sporting investment favours traditionally male sports, whereas volleyball has a strong focus on women and girls, and they deserve greater support."

Volleyball Australia President, Craig Carracher, said the generous support of the Schwartz Family Company comes at an exciting time for the sport in Australia.

“Our beach teams, and our women in particular, are currently among the best in the world, while our men’s indoor team is on the verge of an exciting Rio qualifying campaign,” Mr Carracher said.

“Our women’s indoor program has been re-launched after years of little government funding, and we have some of the biggest junior sports programs in Australia.

“None of this is possible without the support of people like Dr Jerry Schwartz. It is fantastic to have someone with his vision and generosity on board.”

Volleyball Australia Chief Commercial Officer, Rod Harys, said Australian businesses were recognising what the sport has to offer.

“Volleyball is the most gender equal sport in the world, it is one of the most popular sports in the world, and whether it is indoor or beach, it is a thrilling sport to watch,” Mr Harys said.

“Having the support of sponsors of the calibre of the Schwartz Family Company, Mrs Gina Rinehart and Bendon, and the recent signing of Three Threes Condiments, Mightymite, Hope Estate Wines, Sunland, Mitronics and Sails Restaurant Group underlines that this is a sport going forward.

“And that will be further exemplified on the sand of Copacabana Beach and in a Maracana stadium next year. It is an exciting time for beach and indoor volleyball.”


Volleyball Australia is delighted to announce that Australia’s mens indoor Volleyroos will play host to the World League in 2014 and for the first time in the history of the World League will host the Finals for Group 2. In Pool C of Group 2,  the Volleyroos will be joined by Finland, Belgium and Canada to compete in the intercontinental home and away rounds. The Volleyroos will play 3 home round matches versus Finland at the AIS Arena  on the 7and 8 June, Belgium at the Adelaide Arena on the 27 and 28 June, and Canada at the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre on the 5 and 6 July. The round games will be followed by the final Final four play off which will include Australia as the host nation to be held at the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre on the 11 and 12 July. The winner of this Finals series will advance to join the top two from each pool in Group 1 in addition to the hosts Italy.

The Volleyroos stunned the world when they took the number one ranking spot in Asia in 2012 to qualify for the London Olympic Games and narrowly missed a quarter final play off after a stellar performance by the youngest team at the Olympics which included beating world powerhouse Poland. This effort raised the ranking of the Volleyroos from 22 to number 11 in the world. In 2013, Australia played host at the AIS Arena to the Asian World Championship Qualifying tournament which the Volleyroos won to see them advance to the 2014 World Championships to be held in Poland in 2014.

Volleyball Australia President, Craig Carracher said, “We cannot underestimate the significance of Australia competing in and hosting the World League rounds and Finals for the Volleyroos quest to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and for the development and growth of the game in Australia. I would like to  thank the FIVB for their support of Volleyball Australia in once again bringing international matches to our shores and I urge all of Australia to get behind the Volleyroos and cheer them on at their home rounds and in the Final four series”.

Volleyroos Head Coach, the dynamic Jon Uriarte has applauded the efforts of Volleyball Australia to provide the Volleyroos this outstanding opportunity to participate in the World League for the first time since 1999 and to be able to compete against world class competition on home soil. Jon said, “I am thrilled for this opportunity for the team. They are a  young team and continually need to be playing high quality international competitors to give them the best chance of qualifying for Rio 2016 which they will now have!”.

 Volleyball Australia has risen to the challenge of meeting the criteria of podium performances  established by the Australian Institute of Sport under its Winning Edge high performance strategy. Judy Flanagan, Volleyball Australia CEO said, ”With the support of the FIVB,we have set have  an ambitious international hosting agenda to continue to place Australia on the global stage in one of the largest global sports as a force to be reckoned with. There is nothing like playing in front of a large, passionate and vocal home crowd so save the dates in Canberra, Adelaide and Sydney and come on down to  support the Volleyroos in their World League endeavours and their 2016 Rio quest”.

The ticket and corporate box sales program will be announced shortly.

For any queries please contact:

Judy Flanagan




FIVB Announcement: Historic World League calendar to culminate in Florence, Italy



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