Earlier this month, USA Team Handball sent a men’s and women’s national beach handball team to compete in Doha at the inaugural World Beach Games, hosted by the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC). The six-day competition featured 13 sports and 14 disciplines, with more than 1,200 athletes from 97 nations competing.
The women’s beach handball team finished 10th overall, as the men finished in 11th place, with both teams logging a 2-5 record. USA Team Handball asked some of our athletes about their experience at this unique international event. Read more below (photo credit: Pawel Jakubowski Photography):
Ashley Van Ryn (Atlanta, Georgia)
The World Beach Games was an incredible experience…athletically, culturally, and personally. Thank you to ANOC, the people of Qatar, and our entire Team USA staff as they went above and beyond to make us feel welcome and comfortable, and enabled us to perform at our best throughout the competition. It was a blessing and privilege to be a part of an event that brought so many different countries together, celebrating unity in diversity, while competing in sports we all love at the highest level possible. It was an exciting, challenging, enriching, and joyous event!
Bill Johnson (Everett, Washington)
The World Beach Games was a special moment to connect with like-minded, high-caliber athletes from cultures all over the world, both on and off the sand. It was a true honor and humbling privilege to act as ambassadors for the United States in this capacity, and to be able to immerse in the rich heritage of Qatar. We look forward to training even harder to come home with a medal at the next WBG.
Missy Sponagle (Apple Valley, California)
The World Beach Games was an unbelievable experience that I am so grateful to have been a part of. It was inspiring to see so many world-class athletes fiercely competing in relatively new sports. Thank you to all who were involved to make this tournament such a success! I can’t wait for the next one!
Alex Browne (San Diego, California)
Having the chance to participate in the inaugural ANOC World Beach Games was incredible in so many ways. To compete with USA beach handball at the highest level of international competition is special enough, but to do so as part of a multi-sport delegation supported by the USOC at such a high quality event takes it to another level. I can't express enough how thankful I am to have been part of this event, and even though the result may not have been what we'd hoped for, I know we're all eager to get back on the sand and put in the practice to prepare ourselves to better compete on this stage the next time around.