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Vanuatu hopes it's a case of third time lucky as it looks to seal qualification for this year's Olympic women's beach volleyball competition.
The 24 teams will compete in Tokyo later this year with Japan, Canada, Latvia and Spain already confirmed for the main draw.
A further 15 countries will qualify based on their provisional Olympic Ranking but Vanuatu's top pairing, Miller Pata and Sherysyn Toko, do not have enough time to climb high enough in the standings before the cutoff date on 15 June.
That leaves one final qualifying opportunity: the Asian Volleyball Confederation Continental Cup Final. Vanuatu will send two women's teams to compete in the Oceania Zone qualifier in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand in March, which is the first of three tournaments in the qualification process.
This event needed to be rescheduled following Fiji's withdrawal as host in December due to concerns over potential health risks following the outbreak of measles in parts of the Pacific region.
Vanuatu coach Michel Bargmann said, with many of the top nations already penciled in for Tokyo, the Melanesian nation had a much better chance of achieving their aim but there was still added pressure with only one Olympic berth on offer.
"The top 15 of the world they will be already qualified so they are out of this qualification system and that is very good for us," he said.
"It's very hard, there's only one spot so we have to give our best and we will see if it's enough to go to Tokyo."
Vanuatu missed out on Olympic qualification in 2012 and 2016 but Bargmann is confident their months of training and dedicated preparation will secure their spot third time around.
"The girls are performing very well at the moment, we have a good schedule for the next month, good preparation tournaments for Mount Maunganui and we are very confident to make this happen for Vanuatu."
Bargmann said qualifying meant everything to the team.
"It would be a huge thing for the whole of Vanuatu, for the federation and especially for the girls as well to qualify but now we're really looking forward to competing."
Aside from the dedicated Olympic qualifying tournaments, the teams will be competing in up to 15 events in both Australia and Asia over the next five months, beginning with trips to Cambodia and Thailand next month
SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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