The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships are held every two years and are now considered one of the highlights of the sporting year, as well as a much-desired title for the players on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. Prior to the first tournament in 1997 there were 10 world championships held in Rio de Janeiro every year between 1987 and 1996 and now they are held every two years, outside of the Olympic Games.
The first edition of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships took place on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles, USA. Male and female players shared a purse of $600,000 and the event was broadcast to over 120 countries. Brazilians dominated the event with Para Ferreira and Guilherme Marques winning the gold medal over the USA’s Mike Whitmarsh and Canyon Ceman, while another Brazilian side, Paulo Emilio and Paulao, won bronze. In the women’s competition Brazilians Jackie Silva and Sandra Pires claimed gold over US pair Holly McPeak and Lisa Arce. Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede added a fourth medal for Brazil by winning the bronze.
The World Championships moved to Europe with Marseille on France’s Mediterranean coast playing host. Over 50,000 fans took in the action and $600,000 was again the total prize money. Brazil continued to dominate the men’s competition as Emanuel Rego won the first of his world titles, alongside Jose Loiola by defeating Swiss brothers Paul and Martin Laciga. Meanwhile defending champions Para Ferreira and Guilherme Marques won the bronze medals. Shelda Bede and Adriana Behar improved on their 1997 bronze medals by claiming gold against the USA’s Annett Davis and Johnson Jordan. Another US pair, Liz Masakayan and Elaine Youngs, completed the podium.
Klagenfurt in Austria was the first venue for the first World Championships of the millennium and the sign of the growing interest in the tournament was reflected as over 100,000 spectators watched the action over the five days of competition. Argentine duo Martin Conde and Mariano Baracetti broke Brazil’s dominance of the men’s gold medals with victory over Ricardo Santos and Jose Loiola, while Norway became another country to win a major beach volleyball medal when Jorre Andre Kjemperud and Vegard Hoidalen claimed the bronze. Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede defended their gold medals with victory over fellow Brazilians Sandra Pires and Tatiana Minello. In the bronze medal match Czech duo Eva Celbova and Sona Dosoudilova beat the USA’s Elaine Youngs and Barbra Fontana.
Beach volleyball finally returned to its spiritual home when the sun-drenched sands of Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach welcomed the cream of beach volleyball. Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor finally ended Brazil’s monopoly of the women’s medals by beating defending champions Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede in the final and Sydney 2000 Olympic champion Natalie Cook added world bronze alongside Nicole Sanderson. Local fans were not disappointed with the men’s result though as Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos defeated US pair Stein Metzger and Dax Holdren, while another Brazilian duo Marcio Araujo and Benjamin Insfran claimed bronze.
Germany’s capital Berlin brought the tournament back to Europe and increased the total prize money to $1million. The men’s gold medal stayed in Brazilian hands after Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes defeated Switzerland’s Sasha Heyer and Paul Laciga. Local fans cheered on compatriot Julius Brink who signalled his potential by winning bronze with Kjell Schneider. Olympic champions Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor defended their world title with a win over top seeds Juliana Felisberta and Larissa França. Tian Jia and Wang Fei meanwhile showed the growing strength of Chinese teams ahead of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games by claiming the bronze medal.
Gstaad brought the World Championships to the Swiss Alps and US duo Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers underlined their growing presence in the men’s game by defeating Russia’s Dmitri Barsouk and Igor Kolodinsky in the final. Australia’s Andrew Schacht and Joshua Slack beat Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos in the bronze-medal match to ensure, for the first time, that there were no Brazilians on the men’s podium. Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor again held onto their world title with a win over 2005 bronze medallists Tian Jia and Wang Fei, while Juliana Felisberta and Larissa França won bronze by defeating another Chinese pair Chen Xue and Zhang Xi.
Norwegian port Stavanger brought the World Championships to the Vaagen Harbour dockside venue and German duo Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann made history by becoming the first European pair to win a world title. They defeated Brazil’s Alison Cerutti and Harley Marques Silva, while Olympic champions and defending gold medallists, Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers finished with bronze. Their fellow Americans April Ross and Jennifer Kessy ensured that the USA continued to dominate the women’s competition by winning gold on Independence Day. They beat Juliana Felisberta and Larissa França, while another Brazilian pair Maria Antonelli and Talita Antunes claimed the bronze medals.
Rome’s Foro Italico Sports Complex provided a fitting backdrop to a tournament in which Brazil reigned supreme in both the men’s and women’s competitions. The centre court was filled to its 10,000 capacity to witness Juliana Felisberta and Larissa França finally get their hands on a major title after two silver medals and a bronze from previous tournaments. They beat double Olympic champions Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor in the gold-medal match, while China’s Chen Xue and Zhang Xi claimed bronze. In the men’s competition Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti cut a swath through the opposition on their way to a final against Emanuel’s long-time partner Ricardo Santos who was playing with Marcio Araujo. Emanuel added a third world title after he and Alison showed no mercy to their compatriots, while 2009 champions Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann recovered from losing in the semifinals to win the bronze medal.
The tournament landed in eastern Europe for the first time in 2014 with the the biggest beach volleyball stars in the world descending on the Polish village of Stare Jablonki. History was made in both tournaments as it celebrated two new countries on top of the podium. In the men’s edition Dutch pair Robert Meeuwsen and Alexander Brouwer came from nowhere to beat one of the most decorated players in beach volleyball, Ricardo Santos, and Alvaro Filho, one of the most promising young players in the sport. Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik continued Germany’s success in the tournament by winning bronze. China’s Chen Xue and Zhang Xi finally got their hands on a major title when they beat Germany’s Karla Borger and Britta Büthe in the women’s final with Brazil’s Liliane Maestrini and Barbara Seixas completing the podium.