Picture - NZL win Oceania Continental Cup in Cook Islands (Mike Watson, Jason Lochhead, Ben Odea and Sam Odea)
New Zealand’s Mike Watson (BOP), Sam O’Dea (BOP) along with Jason Lochhead (BOP), Ben O’Dea (BOP) and Thomas Hartles (Reserve from North Harbour) have arrived in Australia, for the Asian Olympic Qualifier will be held June 24-26 in Cairns.
After winning the Oceania Continental Cup in Cook Islands last year, NZL had a bye past the semi-finals directly to the Asian Continental Cup Finals.
If NZL win the Cairns event they will potentially qualify one team a place at the 2016 Rio Olympics. If NZL place 2nd or 3rd they will have the opportunity to travel to Russia to play a last chance qualifier.
NZL will likely be seeded 4th and face China in the Quarterfinal round, if they progress (win) they will probably face Australia in the semi-final, win again and they will likely face either Qatar or Kazakhstan in the final.
The winner of this tournament may earn a place for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Volleyball NZ has a meeting with NZOC Olympic Committee in the last week of June, where a decision to include NZL Beach Volleyball in NZOC’s team for Rio will be made.
The Silver and Bronze medallist will have an opportunity to compete against the other Continental runners up for the final Olympic Spots (2). This tournament will be held in Sochi, Russia.
In the build up to the finals Watson/O’Dea and Lochhead/O’Dea played the Asian Champs, with Lochhead/O’Dea finishing 4th and O’Dea/Watson finishing 5th equal.
Teams to beat:
Australia – Kapa/McHugh, 3rd place at the 2014 Austrian Grand Slam
Qatar – Jefferson/Cherif, 1st place at the 2016 Iran Open
Kazakhstan – Dyachanko/Sidorenko, 4th place at the 2014 Norway Grand Slam
China – Bao/Ha, 5th place at the 2016 Asian Championships
Japan – Katsuhiro Shiratori, 2 time Olympian
Event Website here