With the support of Mano Bank, the Lithuanian beach volleyball team are paving their route to the Olympic games

Beach volleyball team Ainė Raupelytė and Monika Paulikienė
Beach volleyball team Ainė Raupelytė and Monika Paulikienė

Lithuanian beach volleyball players Monika Paulikienė and Ainė Raupelytė continue the tournament marathon in distant countries, where they seek to win as many victories as possible in an effort to fulfil their biggest dream – a trip to the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

Since many teams are travelling around tournaments like the Lithuanians, it is not difficult for Paulikienė and Raupelytė to find training partners and to robustly prepare for future competitions. Two coaches are currently working with the Lithuanian team – Paulius Matulis and Genadijs Samoilovs, a specialist from Latvia has also joined the team this year. Long-distance travel and specialist services are expensive, so Lithuanian athletes are glad that there are enough partners and sponsors, thanks to which it is possible to pursue the Olympic dream.

The Lithuanian bank Mano Bank became the sponsor of the most powerful beach volleyball duo in Lithuania. It contributes to society by protecting the forests of Lithuania, investing in the defence of the country and the success of the country’s athletes.

“Mano Bank applies a values-based support policy and supports three main areas. The largest support is provided to Ukraine and the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union. Then to the area of sustainability, where the Ancient Woods Foundation has been supported for the second year in a row. Finally, of course, sports – last year we started establishing a relationship with tennis. A new tennis arena built in Klaipeda was awarded the title of Mano Bank Arena, and this year we were very eager to contribute to the historical opportunity of the beach volleyball pair to represent Lithuania for the first time at the Olympic Games,” said Giedrė Blazgienė, CEO of Mano Bank.

Beach volleyball players will collect ranking points for the Olympic selection until 9th June. Currently, in the Olympic ranking M. Paulikienė and A. Raupelytė hold the 15th place, and only 18 pairs will be going to the Olympic Games. This will change when all the strongest teams play a minimum of 12 tournaments.

The Lithuanian team strengthened their positions at the Beach Pro Tour Challenge in Brazil in March, where they won bronze medals for the first time in their career.

“We are very pleased with this tournament. In the semi-final we played with a strong Swiss team, which we lost to all three times last year. It was not easy to play with them at such an important stage. We tried not to think about it and went to the court to play and fight. We managed to avoid many mistakes, and everything went well. Of course, it is a pity that we lost in the semi-final because we failed to reach the final of the Challenge for the third time, but we are happy to have won the bronze match. The most important thing was to recover emotionally from the failure in the semi-final. This time we learned the lessons and we managed to get the long-awaited medal,” Paulikienė recalled.

A week later in the same tournament, the team did not win the second round of qualifiers. M. Paulikienė revealed that this was due to an unpleasant reason – leg trauma.

“Already in the first tournament in Brazil, I had to play with pain medication from the semi-finals onwards. I just managed to withstand this competition. In the second tournament, I felt like there was something really wrong with my leg. I still managed to survive the first match, but in the second match it was not possible to play well, because there was a great pain and restriction in my quadriceps. It is very disappointing that this important tournament did not play out as we’ve hoped,” said Paulikienė.

The sportswoman immediately reassures – things are getting better with her leg. The athletes flew to Mexico from Brazil for another Beach Pro Tour Challenge this week. Although the leg is still in the process of recovery, the training is already in full force.

“I don’t feel pain anymore, so everything is going better,” she smiled.

In the Olympic selection, the strongest Lithuanian beach volleyball team will still be competing in the Challenge Series tournaments in Mexico, China and Poland, as well as the Elite16 tournaments in Mexico, Brazil, Portugal and the Czech Republic.

“We are counting and sorting. We are competing with several teams, so we are watching our main competitors. Now there are three important tournaments in a row, so we can’t let the teams we’re competing with take the top places. This is quite interesting. At the moment, we are high in the Olympic ranking, but the next three tournaments will show the whole situation even more clearly. If we do well, we can get to start planning our Olympic trip, and if something fails, we may have to compete for a place in the Olympics until the last tournament,” Paulikienė said.

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