22 Mar 2016

Sport: Busy times ahead as Vanuatu chase beach volleyball berth in Rio

4:20 pm on 22 March 2016

Vanuatu beach volleyball duo Linline Matauatu and Miller Pata have just nine events left to secure automatic qualification for the Rio Olympics.

The Melanesian duo finished in a share of 17th place at the Vitoria Open in Brazil at the weekend and remain just adrift of the top 15, which would earn direct entry.

After winning their first two pool matches, Vanuatu were beaten by top seeds and eventual champions Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca before another straight sets defeat by the Swiss ninth seeds, to miss out on the top 16.

Vanuatu beach volleyball players Miller Pata and Linline Matauatu.

Vanuatu beach volleyball players Miller Pata and Linline Matauatu. Photo: Vanuatu Volleyball

The President of Vanuatu Volleyball, Debbie Masauvakalo, said the race is on to reach their goal by the 12th of June.

"If we're not in the top 15 on the 12th of June we will fly Vanuatu Team 1 over to Sydney for the Asian Continental Cup final, where they will be met by Team 2 of Vanuatu and then we will play in the Asian Continental Cup final, with all the other top Asian teams. If we win that event we could go through to the Olympics, taking the Asian Olympic berth, but if we come second or third we then have to fly both teams over to Russia for the World Cup. If we come first or second from that World Cup in July then we take the last two spots for the Olympic Games so it's a bit of a very very long, hard, expensive process...We're only two spots away so it's really a very huge realistic dream and we're just so thankful to the local support and the support internationally to getting these girls to the Olympics."

Debbie Masauvakalo said it's a very extraordinary workload but they have been fortunate that major sponsor Samsung has come on boat and is covering about 25 percent of their total costs.