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Posse about the “gas station ball” outraged beach volleyball players

“It’s the bottom weapon”
Posse about the “gas station ball” outraged beach volleyball players

Felix Meininghaus

The FIVB world association introduces a new beach volleyball above the heads of the athletes and thus causes trouble. National player Karla Borger doubts the officials’ action is within the rules.

Team athletes have always had a special relationship with their playground equipment: not only do they kick, throw or kick the ball, but they caress, caress and coax it. They spend so much time and have so many adventures with the object of desire that a tender relationship is almost inevitable. In this regard, it is understandable that athletes – regardless of their discipline – react sensitively when it comes to the ball.

Laura Ludwig plays the legendary “Beach Champ VL 300” in the final in Rio.

(Photo: IMAGO Network/USA TODAY)

You have to keep this in mind so that you can assess why the Beach Volleyball Players Guild has not been on good terms with FIVB World Association officials since the start of the year. Before the Olympics in 2012, the Mikasa Group presented the “Beach Champ VLS 300”, which has since then been a faithful companion of sand collectors, and which the Germans in particular hold dear. Also because at the start Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann and four years later in Rio de Janeiro Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst extracted gold from the sand with the blue, white and yellow playground equipment.

Allegations of discrimination against the association

There is now a new bullet, but what happens around its introduction seems quite strange. “How professionals are distraught and becomes a political issue,” reads the volleyball platform. In December, the FIVB sent an e-mail to the national federations gathered under its aegis: “We are happy to announce that Mikasa will start the first event of the Olympic qualification period, which will take place from February 1 to 5. 2023 in Doha, launching a new BV 550C beach volleyball.”

There are therefore only two months between this announcement and the tournament during which the new ball is used for the first time. Lots of time to seriously get used to it, but that’s not all: the new bullet isn’t even commercially available yet, and the producer is keeping a big secret about its delivery. In order not to leave the athletes completely empty, the teams in the top 100 of the world ranking were given four balls to allow them to get used to it. Anyone who knows the intensity of work at the top knows that it is ridiculously little. In addition, the players’ association speaks of discrimination because the lower ranked teams do not have the possibility to work with the new ball.

Borger rages against the “kamikaze decision”

When German national team Karla Borger and Sandra Ittlinger sent their balls to Stuttgart, the duo were in a training camp in Tenerife. Bad timing, but lucky in disguise: Scout Raimund Wenning flew to the holiday island the next day and took the balls with him. Karla Borger’s perception on the first serve: “Wow, that thing is fast.” Karla Borger and Sandra Ittlinger report on the rather unsatisfactory situation in the first part of their “Life is a Beach” podcast, which is worth listening to: Their first impression was that “the thing looks like a station ball -service”, reports Karla Borger: “It’s serious, we are still far from April 1st”.

Karla Borger finds the story “exciting”. Anyone who knows the athlete, who in addition to her work in the sand is also the opinionated president of the association “Athleten Deutschland”, knows that she would like to use sharper adjectives to describe the confusing situation in which the world association is maneuvering athletes a. The defender does the same afterwards and speaks of a “kamikaze decision. It’s really the lowest canon, what the players deliver to us. They just pass it on without letting us know.” According to the motto “fuck it, how the players get away with it”.

Karla Borger doubts that the FIVB procedure complies with the rules, since equipment for a competition must be submitted to the IOC three years before the start of an Olympic tournament. She was “strongly convinced that action can be taken”. It was more than clear, the reaction of the FIVB was not long in coming, as the duo reported in another episode of their podcast: The world association wrote to the duo and imposed a muzzle on them. Sandra Ittlinger reported an emailed ‘no talk’ the introduction of the new ball would be announced exclusively on other channels: ‘So forget what we talked about.’ Karla Borger added with a laugh: “We didn’t say anything.”

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