Lausanne, Switzerland, December 26, 2018 – For Anders Mol and Christian Sorum 2018 was certainly a year to remember as they ended as FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour champions, European champions and with their first World Tour gold medals.
The Norwegians began 2018 with a quarterfinal place, and then gave a hint of what was to come when they reached their first World Tour gold medal match at the Itapema 4-Star in Brazil, but lost to local favourites and world champions Evandro Goncalves and Andre Stein.
By July they found their rhythm and Mol, 21, and Sorum, 22, won their first World Tour gold with victory over Spain’s Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira in the Gstaad 5-Star gold medal match. A week later they became European champions and then a fortnight on they won a second World Tour gold at the Vienna 5-Star.
It meant they went into the Hamburg 2018 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Finals in red-hot form, and they lived up to their billing as favourites by securing gold when they defeated Poland’s Michal Bryl and Grzegorz Fijalek 2-0 (21-19, 21-17).
“I don’t know what has happened the last month,” Mol said after victory in Hamburg. “The whole journey has been unreal for us. We did not expect this.
“Our goal for the season was to take a medal and we already did that in Brazil in Itapema in May. We had to reach for a higher goal and of course that was to take a gold medal.”
The men’s field was wide open through 2018 and Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs were the only other team to win more than one tournament.
The Latvians topped the podium at the Espinho and Moscow 4-Star tournaments, and also won silver at the CEV European Championships, and bronze at the Fort Lauderdale 5-Star and Warsaw 4-Star.
Smedins and Samoilovs weren’t the only Latvians to claim a gold medal. Martins Plavins and Edgars Tocs marked the start of the year and the start of their partnership by winning gold at The Hague 4-Star.
“I think after this tournament it will just get harder,” Plavins said after their win. “We are still a new team and we will make a lot of mistakes, but this tournament we played really well and made no mistakes and got lucky sometimes, but we’re still happy we’ve won the final.”
Herrera and Gavira, and USA’s Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena showed that their experience could still be brought to bear.
The Spanish pair won Ostrava 4-Star gold, Gstaad 5-Star silver and bronze at the European Championships, while Dalhausser and Lucena claimed Fort Lauderdale 5-Star gold before injury curtailed their season.
The 2013 world champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen won gold at the Doha 4-Star, and bronze at home at The Hague 4-Star.
Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak also enjoyed the comforts of home when they won gold at the Warsaw 4-Star, as well as silver in The Hague 4-Star, Ostrava 4-Star and bronze at the World Tour Finals and Itapema 4-Star tournament.
“It feels amazing,” Losiak said in the Polish capital. “This is the second gold of our career. We’ve been waiting for it for two years. I hope the next one will be sooner than that.”
Two Russian teams found their way to the top of a podium.
Oleg Stoyanovskiy, 22 and Igor Velichko, 23, showed their promise by winning gold at the Xiamen 4-Star, silver at the Doha 4-Star and bronze at home at the Moscow 4-Star, while Konstantin Semenov and Ilya Leshukov topped the podium at the Mersin 3-Star in Turkey.
“It a big honour for me to play here in front of my friends and family and a special moment to win a medal,” Stoyanovskiy said after the Moscow bronze medal match. “It is the second year in a row as I won bronze here last year and I’m very happy.”
For Brazilian teams though 2018 was underwhelming.
Andre and Evandro were the only pair to win gold, albeit at home in Brazil at the Itapema 4-Star. However, it was their final success as a team before a number of changes to the various Brazilian pairings.
Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games gold medallists Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt went their separate ways. Bruno decided to reform his 2013 partnership with Pedro Solberg, which left Alison looking for a partner.
In the end he paired up with Andre, while Evandro teamed up again with Vitor Felipe. It means that there will be fierce competition between the three teams to claim the two qualifying spots for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“It was the choice he wanted,” Evandro told Globo Esporte at the time. “He is reaching a big stage of his career and fulfilling his potential. It has left me upset and feeling down, but it has happened now and I have to go on.”