Volleyball has been a mandatory sport in the Universiade for quite some time, but the "beach volley" variant had never been included in the FISU sports programmes before 2002, when France organized the first edition of the World University Beach volley Championship in Guadeloupe. The successful participation for this first edition is worth mentioning, and this is no accident – the sport is clearly very attractive, if only for the magnificent sites proposed for competition. Every advantage of this aspect was appreciated in 2004, since the site chosen by the Thai University Sports Association was the town of Songkhla, in the south of the country, a well-known seaside resort that draws tourists from all over the world. Songkhla also has a university that lent its facilities to participants in the championship, won by an Indonesian duo for the man, and a Czech team for the ladies.
JPN vs. SUI
In 2006, the "Cyprus University Sports Federation" took charge of organizing the third edition. The island of Cyprus, the pearl with the Mediterranean, has an exceptional climate that did much to keep participants smiling at the competition. Cypriotes are no novice organizers – in the past they have already hosted several World University Championships: Badminton in 1990, Futsal in 1994, Windsurf in 1996, plus an edition of the FISU Forum in 1992. 56 men and 54 women from 22 countries were accredited, very good numbers for a competition that is just getting started at university level. The Minister of Justice, Mr. Sofoclis Sofocleous, the highest authority present at the meet, officially opened this championship in a very handsome Opening Ceremony staged in the ancient amphitheatre in Paralimni.
Many observers who came to the first two editions agreed that the players are getting better and better. Paul Smith, coach of the Canadian team, shares that opinion: "many teams, particularly the ones from Europe, have really improved in recent years. It's very hard to make predictions especially since most of them train inside, and consequently they are strongly influenced by weather conditions, particularly the wind that they will have to cope with in Cyprus". There is no denying that the wind, as well as the heat, were doubtlessly a handicap for many participants.
A you probably know, beach volley is played in teams of two, which means that one country may send several teams. This is the explanation for the presence of two German and two French teams in the women's semi-finals, where the first German team met the second French team and vice versa. Each country took one game, so at the finals there were no domestic quarrels between two teams from the same country. The sun was scorching when the match for the third-place began between, France 1 (Castelli/Gemise Fareau) and Germany 1 (Kohler/Gunter). It took no more than two sets for the Germans to overcome the French team (21-10, 21-17) that can be very dangerous, but that seemed to have lost its grip on reality that day. The final pitted France 2 (Giaoui/Giordanno) against Germany 2 (Fleming/Romberg), and this time, France got back its own, taking the title thanks to this very effective team who controlled the match perfectly, winning in two sets: 21-16 and 21-19.
The men's semi-finals opposed the USA 1 team (Mayer/Prosser) to Germany 1 (Dollinger/Huth) and Germany 2 (Wenning/Schmeckenbecher) to Switzerland 1 (Gabathuler/Wenger). The teams Dollinger/Huth and Gabathuler/Wenger won their matches and faced each other at the finals. So third place was played between Germany 2 and USA 1. The match was scheduled at 1:30 in the afternoon when the heat was almost unbearable: 35°C with no wind. The Americans (Mayer/Prosser) were the ones who made the most of these extreme conditions, winning in two sets: 21-14 and 22-20.
The final was a much closer game. Maybe because the television cameras were there. In any case, both teams fought it out to the finish. After the Swiss squeaked through (24-22), the Germans came back in the second set 21-18. The third set was decisive as the Swiss took the advantage with a comfortable lead of 15 points to 9. Rendez-vous in 2008 for the next and fourth edition of the World University Beach Volleyball Championship in Hamburg, Germany.
Male Athletes: 56
Female Athletes: 54
Total Participants: 149