Issa Batrane and Freddie Bialokoz stormed through qualifying at last weekend’s Beach Pro Tour event on the Greek island of Ios to claim England’s first medal on the new international volleyball circuit of beach.
After impressive performances at recent competitions in Lithuania and Norway, where the duo finished 5e and 2n/arespectively, the Batrane-Bialokoz team overcame adverse weather conditions to finish third and win a bronze medal.
En route to their medal match, they faced compatriots the Bello Brothers in the main draw, with Freddie and Issa coming from behind to win 2-1 (13-21; 21-17; 15-11) .
Issa said: “It’s a great feeling for our team to make history with the first Beach Pro Tour medal of any English team. The new Pro Tour system is condensed into 3 tiers instead of 5 like previous years, which just means it’s more competitive across the board.
“We are of course very happy to have finished the tournament with a victory and to win the bronze medal, but we are also looking forward to fighting to climb 2 more steps on this podium.
“We just wanted to say thank you to everyone who supported and made this possible and a big shout out to our team who continue to enjoy these times with us but also push and demand more from us every week.”
The Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour started in March 2022, replacing the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. Elite16 is the highest level event on the tour, where top beach athletes compete to become champions. Challenge level tournaments feed into Elite16 tournaments and Futures tournaments allow cities to develop the sport in their country and build the skills of rising stars.
Between 2019 and the launch of the Beach Pro Tour in 2022, English athletes have won 1 gold medal and 4 bronze medals on the Beach Volleyball World Tour.
The Batrane-Bialokoz team will now return to the Deep Dish Crystal Palace to train before traveling to Ciro Marina, Italy for their next Beach Pro Tour event between the 14e-17e July.
High winds created difficult playing conditions for all teams in Ios. Javier and Joaquin Bello were beaten by eventual winners Bercik/Dzavoronok in the quarter-finals, while Jess Grimson and Daisy Mumby were knocked out in the second qualifying round.