Professional beach volleyball athletes, including Kerri Walsh Jennings (seated second from left) take part in a media event on Tuesday, August 18, in Long Beach. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.
The ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball began Tuesday in Long Beach’s Alamitos Beach with qualifying matches for the professional tournament and a media day where some of the sport’s top competitors shared their excitement for the upcoming days.
“This is a really big deal, not only for us Americans here, but for our sport,” said three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings during a mid-day media event. “To have an event like this that's so grand, so prestigious, that's running every single year with the backing of an amazing global company like ASICS, I’m really proud to be here and I’m proud that the best in the world have showed up.”
Walsh Jennings—who will participate in the tournament, which is critical to her qualifying for the 2016 Olympics—will also be debuting a part of her fashion line in collaboration with ASICS.
For Brazilian players Barbara Seixas and Agatha Bednarczuk—the current top-ranked FIVB women’s beach volleyball team in the world—the tournament means a chance to play among the best and in a place with so much beach volleyball history.
“And the atmosphere is great, similar to what we are used to, good weather and nice people around us,” Seixas said. “It’s a great event. Not only the athletes and the way they play, but also we like to share a little bit of this energy and the message that we are trying to bring to everybody is a healthy way of living and the happiness and joy to do what you love.”
The tournament—the final U.S.-based qualifier for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janerio—is scheduled to bring in 128 of the world’s top beach volleyball players during its week-long run, August 18-23.
The series of events will also feature mostly free activities for fans to take part in, including open tournaments for all ages and experiences.
There will also be musical performances by Adam Lambert and American Author, a “Legends Night” honoring the 1996 Olympic beach volleyball team, and a celebrity match hosted by actor Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games) that will benefit the Straight But Not Narrow nonprofit organization.
For more information on the tournament and activities click here.
All photos by Stephanie Rivera.