Mexico Steals the Hearts of Spanish Volleyball Legends

Spanish beach volleyball legends Herrera and Gavira love Mexico's electric tournaments. They praise amazing organization and passionate crowds. After 16 years together, they chase Olympic glory in Paris. (Herrera's record 6th!)

Mexico Steals the Hearts of Spanish Volleyball Legends
Spanish veterans Herrera and Gavira light up the Mexican crowd with their skills. Credit: CONADE

One of the most important duos in the best beach volleyball in the world is the Spanish duo of Pablo Herrera Allepuz and Adrian Gavira Collado, who have 16 years playing together, several medals at continental level and multiple participations in Olympic Games; an enviable trajectory of a team that has graced our country in up to five competitions.

Herrera, runner-up in Athens 2004, and Gavira, European champion in 2013, have offered spectacle in Mexican lands in the Pre-Olympic Cancun 2021, the Challenge Tlaxcala 2022, the Challenge La Paz 2023 (where they were crowned champions), the World Championship Tlaxcala 2023 and the Challenge Guadalajara 2024; in addition, they will play their sixth tournament in our country this week in the Elite 16 Tepic.

For the long-lived and successful beach team, their stays, and events in Aztec territory have been satisfactory at a competitive level, in the treatment and reception of the public and their perception regarding the organization and infrastructure set up in each of the venues they have played.

“When we come to Mexico we feel at home, since the people and the organization here treat us incredible in every tournament we have been to. The whole structure they have set up for this event (Challenge Guadalajara) looks like a World Championship, and the truth is that this is appreciated especially for the care given to the player; it is good for us to play here, and we feel well-loved,” Herrera assured.

“I believe that the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) is totally right with bringing tournaments to Mexico, because the athletes feel very comfortable here. The World Championship in Tlaxcala was spectacular in how the people received it, and we were in the main venue. It was great from the training sessions, the full stands, the times they stopped us to ask for autographs and photos; this is something that players like because they feel loved and supported,” added Gavira.

Pablo Herrera, who is about to turn 42, spoke about the importance of his sport being played mostly away from the beach, since organizing competitions with the best level in stadiums, bullrings, auditoriums or sports complexes responds to the need and intention that all people have at their reach and know more about this discipline.

“The idea is to bring beach volleyball closer to the cities; this serves to get people more interested and to make it more popular. In Mexico we were surprised by all the set-up that is done, where everyone who comes can enjoy the games. The quality of the sand is good, and it is a pleasure to play, since it is super soft, and in tournaments held on the beach, the sand is not treated, and you can find anything; here it is clean, and we enjoy it,” he explained.

In the same vein, Adrian Gavira, 36 years old and 20 of them dedicated to his discipline, took the opportunity to invite the Mexican public to provide an opportunity to know everything that this show has to offer, since the events held in our country compete one-on-one with other venues around the world.

“We want to invite all Mexicans to these events if they are lucky enough to have them in their city. Give yourselves the opportunity to get to know our sport, leave behind the criticism that it is not played on the beach because visually it is very beautiful; it is much easier in terms of infrastructure to set up an event outside the beach to have areas for the attendees. I'm sure they will have a good time and enjoy themselves,” he said.

“Organizationally, Mexico is at a higher level compared to other FIVB World Tour stops. The affection we feel here is not only from the public, but from the whole organization and that is incredible,” he added.

One last Olympic adventure

After their fifth place finish at the Challenge Guadalajara, the most winning Spanish beach volleyball players in history have 5,160 points and are in 16th place in the ranking for Paris 2024, which would be the fourth summer competition for Gavira and sixth for Herrera, who is looking for the great feat of being the first beach volleyball player in history to reach that number of Olympic tournaments.

“We started as a couple in 2009, and I think we are very similar at the level inside the field, although he is the one who pulls forward when I am bad and that is the best he can do in competition because we are the only ones who can help each other at that moment. Of all the teammates I have had, he is the only one with these characteristics and the secret of our union and success is the respect we have for each other. In Paris 2024 we will have what people call a last dance,” Herrera revealed.

“We've been together for 15 years, and it still works, because in addition to the time we spend on the court, we spend 24 hours together off the court. Something key is that in bad moments we unite a lot, that is fundamental in this sport and something exemplary of our duo. A team that doesn't have a good relationship can explode at any moment”, concluded Gavira.