Itapema, Brazil, May 16, 2018 – The qualification process for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will not begin until September, but for Argentinean star Ana Gallay it all starts this week in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Itapema Open.
After two successful Olympic campaigns with Virginia Zonta, in Beijing 2008, and Georgina Klug, in London 2012, the 32-year-old Argentinean is set to start her Olympic quest one more time, once again with a different partner.
When Klug decided to retire last year after the Rio Open, Gallay, a veteran with 58 World Tour stops under her belt, started the search for a new partner. But it wasn’t easy.
It took her eight months and quite a few experiments to find the perfect fit. The ultimate choice was Fernanda Pereyra, a 26-year-old blocker indoor player with no international experience in beach volleyball.
“I wasn’t satisfied with the options I had to play with in Argentina but then I found Fernanda,” Gallay said. “I wanted to pair with a taller player so I could play in defense and that’s what she does. She’s also very strong and that’s important to compete in the World Tour.”
Gallay and Pereira have been together just since February, but the duo has already accomplished some good results at a continental level as they have three podium appearances in seven South American Tour tournaments as a team, including a silver medal in the Finals, last weekend in Peru.
“I started playing beach volleyball professionally in February and everything is new to me,” Pereyra, who is making her World Tour debut in Brazil, added. “I’m still adjusting, but everything has been happening fast. I couldn’t have a better partner. With Ana I can learn and improve so quickly.”
The ultimate goal, of course, is Tokyo 2020, but Gallay knows the new team has quite a few steps to make before it can actually dream of the Olympics.
A two-time Olympian, the veteran believes she has a good shot at representing her country in the Games for the third-straight time with a different partner.
“It’s still a new project and for 2018 we want to compete in the World Tour and play as much as we can to improve our team,” she commented. “Our main goals will come in 2019 as we want to qualify to the Tokyo Games.”
“We started a little late, but I’m confident we still have a good chance of making it. We can qualify either via the World Tour, which is harder, or the Continental Cup and I believe we can do it.”
Gallay and Pereyra didn't have a chance to debut in the World Tour on Wednesday as their qualifier opponents, Russia's Mariia Bocharova and Maria Voronina forfeited their match due to injury. They will play in the main draw starting on Thursday.