COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. (June 2, 2021) – The U.S. Beach Volleyball team of Kelly Claes/Sarah Sponcil has clinched a nomination to the Tokyo Olympic Games, July 23-Aug. 8.
Claes/Sponcil moved into an Olympic-qualifying position last weekend when they won an FIVB Beach World Tour four-star event in Sochi, Russia, their first international gold medal. That win gave them 7,120 Olympic Ranking points, 160 more than Brooke Sweat/Kerri Walsh Jennings.
Claes/Sponcil clinched an Olympic berth Wednesday when Sweat/Walsh Jennings lost in the J&T Banka Ostrava Beach Open qualifier, guaranteeing that Claes/Sponcil will finish Olympic qualifying as the second-ranked American duo in the Provisional Olympic Ranking.
Since partnering in 2019, Claes/Sponcil have earned four medals in 21 FIVB tournaments, including one gold, four silver and five bronze medals. In 2021, the duo has played all five four-star tournaments and has finished tied for fifth or better in four of them. They will also compete in the main draw of the J&T Banka Ostrava Beach Open, which begins Thursday (June 3).
Not far removed from college, Claes/Sponcil will become the youngest beach duo to represent the United States in the Olympic Games. They have an aggregate age of 49 years (Claes: 25 years old; Sponcil 24), and Sponcil will become the second-youngest American beach Olympian after Misty May made her Olympic debut at age 23 in Sydney 2000.
Joining the young duo in Tokyo will be Alix Klineman/April Ross, who clinched their Olympic berth earlier this year.
Olympic berths are awarded to the two highest-ranked American beach pairs in the Provisional Olympic Ranking provided they also finish among the ranking’s overall top 15. Claes/Sponcil are currently sixth overall.
The men’s Olympic berths will be decided later this week once the main draw in Ostrava begins.