Anders Mol and Christian Sorum pass Tokyo 2020 beach volleyball test with flying colours

Norway's world No. 1 pair holds off heat and Germany's Nils Ehlers/Lars Fluggen to win men's event at Tokyo Olympic Games test event

Not even the sweltering heat could stop Norway's beach volleyball stars Anders Mol and Christian Sorum at the FIVB World Tour Tokyo Open.

The world’s top-ranked pair won the official test event for Tokyo 2020 on Sunday beating the German duo of Nils Ehlers and Lars Fluggen 2-0 (21-17, 21-18).

While the host city of next year’s Games managed to dodge a typhoon forecasted earlier in the week, the heat only grew worse Sunday at Shiokaze Park on Tokyo’s waterfront.

It did not seem to bother Mol and Sorum.

Thanks to another stellar performance, they underlined their status as gold-medal favourites in the men’s beach volleyball competition for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

After the sun set and a nice breeze began cooling off the venue, Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda Lisboa of Brazil defeated Americans Alix Klineman and April Ross 2-0 (21-19, 21-18) in the women’s final.

The Norwegians are on top of the world
The Norwegians are on top of the worldThe Norwegians are on top of the world

Norway dominating

Crowd favourites in Japan, Mol and Sorum became the fastest Europeans – men or women – to win nine events on the tour, according to FIVB. Sunday’s victory was the ninth of the season for 22-year-old Mol and 23-year-old Sorum.

German underdogs Ehlers and Fluggen had to qualify for the main draw, but the 15thseeds powered their way into the final of the $300,000 Tokyo Open.

In the end Mol and Sorum proved to be too strong prevailing in 38 minutes.

“It was hard. I think the Germans played really, really well and they have been playing well the whole tournament, had confidence in their game,” Mol said. “It was close until 10 points in each set and we made a good plan in each technical timeout and then we managed to win in the end.”

Odds are at this rate, Mol and Sorum will be heavy favourites to win gold at Tokyo 2020 but Mol was modest about their chances, saying more than a dozen teams have a legitimate shot at topping the podium.

In addition to it being a wide-open field, Mol said teams must possess the mental strength to withstand the tough conditions at Shiokaze Park, from the heat to the humidity to the wind.

2020 Wide Open

“There are so many good teams out there,” said Mol, who enjoyed the benefits of fitness experts from the Norwegian Olympic Committee who made the trip to Tokyo for this competition.

“It’s going to be hard for us to keep maintaining this level. I think Russia are really good, Brazil getting stronger and stronger. The Netherlands, USA. I think there are 15 teams that can win the Olympic Games right now.”

“It could be really, really hot. The hottest days are brutal. We also have an easier programme during the Olympics because we have a match and a day off, a match and a day off. But when you play tiebreaks here in this heat, it’s going to be a mental game for sure.”

Duda (L) and Agatha celebrate victory at the World Tour 4* in Rio de Janeiro in May 2017
Duda (L) and Agatha celebrate victory at the World Tour 4* in Rio de Janeiro in May 2017Duda (L) and Agatha celebrate victory at the World Tour 4* in Rio de Janeiro in May 2017

On the women's side, Agatha and Duda won their second title of the season after taking the 2 June Ostrava Open in the Czech Republic. The women’s final Sunday was the 101st between the United States and Brazil with the U.S. still ahead in the head-to-head 55-46.

Alix Klineman and April Ross had defeated Brazil’s Maria Antonelli and Carolina Salgado two weeks ago in Gstaad, Switzerland.

Canada’s Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson took home the women’s bronze medal with victory over Karla Borger and Julia Sude of Germany while the Netherlands’ Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen edged Brazilians Alison Cerutti and Alvaro Filho for the men’s bronze.

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