Elite 16 Tepic Heats Up Mexico's Beach Volleyball Scene

Mexico's beach volleyball stars battle for Olympic glory at Elite 16 Tepic. Young teams face the world's best in Nayarit for a shot at Paris 2024. Can they overcome veterans and qualify?

Elite 16 Tepic Heats Up Mexico's Beach Volleyball Scene
Mexico's beach volleyball stars rise to the challenge, facing international rivals on their home turf. Credit: CONADE

As part of their qualifying process for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, four Mexican beach volleyball teams will compete in the Elite 16 Tepic, a tournament that brings together the best pairs in the specialty and will take place from April 17 to 21 in the capital of Nayarit.

Abril Flores/Atenas Gutiérrez, Miguel Sarabia/Gabriel Cruz, Yeray Vidaurrazaga/Susana Torres and Ricardo Galindo/Oziel Aguirre are the pairs that will play in front of the Aztec public at the Amado Nervo Auditorium, a building that also hosted the same competition in 2023.

“It is a very important event, since the best 16 teams in the world are looking to emerge victorious to add points to the ranking. We know that it will be difficult to win games, but we have already participated in an Elite before, so we will learn a lot from this. There are always new things, and we will adjust strategies depending on the opponent,” said Atenas Gutiérrez.

“It is one of the best events that a country can host, and we have it here in Nayarit; It will help us a lot to assimilate what high-level volleyball is. We want to feel competitive and confident, since it is very significant to continue promoting this type of sport in Mexico for new generations. I am happy that the authorities are doing what they have to do, and we will do the same on the field,” added Miguel Sarabia.

International-class rivals, vital in training

Starting on Thursday, Flores, and Gutiérrez will compete in Group D against the Brazilians Carol/Barbara and the Canadians Melissa Humana-Paredes/Brandie Wilkerson, as well as a rival to be defined, while Sarabia and Cruz will do the same in Sector D with the Germans Nils Ehlers/Clemens Wickler, the Americans Andy Benesh/Miles Partain and an opponent who will come from the preliminary phase.

“We are going to face the best of the best, rubbing shoulders with great rivals, who for two years have been coming to compete in our country and do so with great pleasure at all venues, be it a beach, bullring or this huge auditorium.” ”said Cruz.

Vidaurrazaga/Torres and Galindo/Aguirre will appear in the arena tomorrow in the qualification round, where they will have to win two games to get into the main graph.

“Here is the elite of beach volleyball, the vast majority goes to the Olympic Games, so a high level will be seen. We continue to prepare as a couple; “We have been growing together in these two years that we have been as a team,” added Galindo.

National beach volleyball, a long-term project in good hands

The young and talented beach volleyball players are part of an ambitious project that was launched at the beginning of 2022, with the aim of developing couples that not only rub against each other, but compete against the greatest exponents of the discipline, in addition to forming a representative that has a recurring presence in the Olympic Games.

“It will be a great experience and training for the Mexican teams; We want to make the most of it so that we can occupy those places in the future. We are in a process that includes many young people and reaching the best world level is not so fast, but we are making great progress,” explained Susana Torres.

“A good decision was made to do a beach volleyball project with young teams for a long-term process; Although we have been on the project for a short time, all the couples have made progress and had good results. For women, the goal was Los Angeles 2028, but now we have great possibilities for Paris 2024,” concluded Abril Flores.