The women’s tournament sets the ball rolling on Sunday, as the historic combined double gender 2021 European Sitting Volleyball Championship kicks off for a week-long extravaganza of a total 95 matches (39 women’s) that will keep the continent entertained over the next seven days.
With eleven participating teams, the women’s tournament at the beach resort of Kemer in the eastern Mediterranean sets a new record even before it starts – the previous high being nine.
After clinching back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2019, Russia are here to go for a third consecutive (and fourth overall, including 2013) gold medal.
With the 2019 MVP in Budapest, Tatiana Ivanova, in a new role as libero, the reigning world champions will be looking at moving forward after failing to make it out of pool play at the delayed Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games – though to be fair they were up against the two finalists of USA and China.
But the 2021 European Championship also marks the return of seven-time European champions the Netherlands, who missed out on Budapest 2019 after previously having competed in every single edition since the introduction of the competition in 1993.
Only Slovenia, who were not present in the inaugural women’s tournament 28 years ago, have as many appearances as the Netherlands with a total of 14.
But can the Dutch, sporting a brand new side, challenge the Russians’ to return to the top with their first gold in 12 years? We will know in a week’s time.
Poland also mark a long-awaited return. After a hiatus of eight years – their previous two appearances at the European Championship, in 2009 and 2013 both concluding with an eighth-place finish.
Hosts Turkey, meanwhile, are making their debut in the competition – the sole ‘rookies’ at Kemer, but including the youngest player of the women’s tournament at 16, Sena Karaoglu.
With 39 women’s matches scheduled over the next seven days (for a mind-boggling grand total of 95 including the men’s event which runs in parallel) Kemer will be a busy place this week, as European sitting volleyball returns to action with all health protocols in place at the beach-side Daima Biz Hotel – with the actual venue, where the three competition courts are set up, contained within the hotel grounds.
The 11 women’s teams are divided into two pools of six and five teams. The top four of each pool advance to Thursday’s quarterfinals, which are follwed by the semifinals on Friday and the medals matches on Saturday.
It all kicks off on Saturday evening here in Kemer with the Opening Ceremony, scheduled for 17:00 local time (14:00 GMT) – a spectacular show including the Parade of Nations a performance by the Wheelchair Dance Team and a showcasing of local folk dances.
All matches will be televised live (and also available on demand) on the ParaVolley Europe YouTube channel.
Access all results, full statistics, photos and news on the competition’s official website at ec2021.paravolley.eu.
And follow all the action on the daily blog of the competition, in real time and as it happens through live text commentary available through the website with all that’s going on on the courts and behind the scenes.
Have your say and interact with the competition on the ParaVolley Europe social media networks on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtags #eurosittingvolley and #sittingvolleyball.