Whether it’s in cycling, track or a host of other sports, Costa Rican athletes are now making history almost every other week. On Sunday, it was the women’s beach volleyball team that etched itself into the country’s record books by becoming the first team ever to qualify for an Olympic Games.
Marcela Araya and Valeria Valenciano won the deciding match in Sunday’s Olympic qualifier in Mexico against the home team to clinch a spot in the 2016 Summer Olympics. In the fourth and final match of the day, Araya and Valenciano defeated their Mexican counterparts in two sets (23-21, 21-18).
The win in the final of the North America, Central America and Caribbean volleyball federation (NORCECA) tournament was the latest title for a Costa Rican side that has already won the Central American and Caribbean championships.
Though Araya and Valenciano sealed Costa Rica’s spot in the Olympics, the first-team of Karen Cope and Natalia Alfaro will represent Costa Rica in Rio de Janiero by virtue of their higher rankings. The duo is ranked 68th in the world, according to the official standings from the International Volleyball Federation.
The games begin Aug. 5 in Rio de Janiero, Brazil with volleyball competitions beginning on Aug. 6, where Cope and Alfaro figure to be heavy underdogs in a field that includes the world’s top duo Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross of the United States.