The A1 CEV EuroBeachVolley 2021 presented by Swatch in Vienna is approaching with big steps and it is therefore time to take a look at the local and European Heroes of this year`s European Championships.
Clemens Doppler, the Austrian beach veteran is looking back on over 20 years of international beach experience. After taking the titles at the European Championships in 2003 and 2007, Doppler and his long time partner Alex Horst also achieved a top result at the 2017 home World Championships in Vienna with a silver medal.
The Lion King form Latvia, Aleksandrs Samoilovs, is one of the fans favourites on the international tour. The 36-year-old comes back to Austria with great memories: after a second place at the European Championships in Klagenfurt 2013, Samoilovs and his partner Jānis Šmēdiņš secured the gold medal at the 2015 European Championships in Klagenfurt and topped this experience by winning the Major in Klagenfurt the following year. With several top 10 results at recent World Tour stops, they are also high contenders for a spot on the podium.
With Anders Mol, a top athlete from Norway will also be seen on court in Vienna. Together with his partner Christian Sørum, the 23-year-old impressively won the last two major tournaments in Vienna and enters the race for the European crown as a three-time defending champion. As the current number 1 in the FIVB ranking, the Beachvolley Vikings are also considered strong candidates for this year’s title.
Markéta "Maki" Sluková is also no stranger to many beach fans: The Czech has been on the international tour since 2010 and was named „Top Rookie“ in the same year. In addition to participation in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, Maki also repeatedly impresses with top results on the FIVB World Tour: in 2018, she secured the gold medal in Vienna together with her partner Barbora Hermannová.
Katharina Schützenhöfer took up Volleyball at the tender age of seven and it quickly became clear that there was a talent for beach volleyball lying in the now 27-year-old: After winning several Austrian national championships titles at youth level, she and her current partner Lena Plesiutschnig also earned top placings at international junior tournaments: The two became U20 European champions in 2011 and were crowned U19 runners-up at the World Championships the same year. The two have since then established themselves on the World Tour and are continually able to show off their excellent results. As the best-seeded women’s team in Austria, the hopes of the local fans for a top ranking rest on the shoulders of the two styrians.
Switzerland’s Joana Heidrich will enter the race for the European crown as defending champions together with her partner Anouk Vergé-Dépré. The 1.90 tall block performer has made her mark on the World Tour and convinces again and again with top results. 2016 Heidrich was awarded the FIVB Most Improved Player award and delivered a convincing performance with a solid 5th place at the Olympic Games. Since 2017 Joana forms a team together with Anouk Vergé-Dépré, and after the European Championship title last year the two are hungry for more.