05.06.2019 - Hamburg, Germany
Every edition of the Beach Volleyball World Championships has its own surprising team, that one that goes well further than expected or takes down one of the favorites to medal. That was the case in 2015, when debuting Qataris Cherif Samba and Jefferson Pereira advanced all the way to the quarter-finals, and in 2017, when 45th-seeded Christiaan Varenhorst and Maarten van Garderen of the Netherlands were among the semifinalists.
With the World Championships Hamburg 2019 presented by comdirect and ALDI Nord set to start on June 28, the most likely candidates to play this role at the Rothenbaum Stadium are pretty obvious – Esteban and Marco Grimalt.
The Chilean cousins are by no means new faces to the international scene - they have been competing on the World Tour since 2011. However, despite having represented their country at the Rio 2016 Olympics and having won three World Tour gold medals within the last year, the Grimalts are yet to reach the same standards at the World Championships as they finished 33rd once and 17th twice in their three appearances so far.
That, however, is about to change according to them.
“We’ve been improving our results and this year we’re very confident we’ll make better than we did in the previous editions,” Marco stated. “That’s our goal, to always progress and we’re very confident and working hard to accomplish it. We are very motivated and we’ll take every match as a final.”
A good result in Hamburg would be almost like redemption for the cousins after a tumultuous debut at the event in Stare Jablonki, in 2013. In Poland, the then-young South Americans not only had their worst performance in the tournament so far, but also had to deal with an unfortunate situation, which later became a joke between them.
“We had several problems with our flight to Poland and we missed all the connections we had to make,” Esteban recalled. “We traveled for two days and finally got to the hotel 45 minutes before our first match and we didn’t have our luggage with us. It was tough, but that experience motivated us a lot to keep improving.”
Things, however, have significantly changed in the six years that separate Stare Jablonki from Hamburg. When they flew to Poland Marco and Esteban were 23 and 22-year-olds excited for their first appearances on beach volleyball’s main stage, now they have earned their place among the sport’s elite and respect from their opponents with solid finishes.
Their recent results have propelled the Grimalts to be the 10th-seeded team in Hamburg and they will battle inPool J with Russia’s Nikita Liamin/Taras Myskiv, Mexico’s Lombardo Ontiveros/Juan Virgen and Germany’s Lars Flüggen/Nils Ehlers.
“Our results are the outcome of several years of hard work with great coaches that supported our development and also some little changes that made a difference over this last year,” Esteban commented. “It’s been a long road and we know we need to keep improving, but the results help us to have the confidence we need to approach the World Championships with high expectations and aware that if we play at our best we can face any team in the world.”
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Despite their still young ages, Marco and Esteban are already impacting the beach volleyball system in Chile. Their unprecedented results have not only inspired up-and-coming players to engage in the sport, but also opened the doors for some of them.
That will be the case in Hamburg, when the cousins will be accompanied by 23-year-old Ignacio Zavalla and 18-year-old Gaspar Lammel, who were selected by the country’s federation to take the berth the cousins won at the South American Tour and also compete at the 2019 World Championships.
“As it happened in the Hague and Vienna, we managed to qualify through the World Tour and that allowed Chile to send a second team,” Marco explained. “Lammel and Zavala are working really well and they had some good results in Chile and South America. For us, it’s great to have a strong team to practice with. They are young and have a lot of potential to represent Chile at the highest level.”