The biggest Beach Volleyball tournament staged in Sydney since the 2000 Olympics will take place on Manly Beach in March.

For the first time Australia will host a three star FIVB World Beach Tour event with a prize pool of $150,000 and qualification points for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on offer.

The enhanced status of the event has seen an unprecedented number of international players entering, including three-time Olympic Gold medalist, American Kerri Walsh-Jennings.

Walsh-Jennings secured gold at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Games and is looking to emulate Australia’s Natalie Cook in competing at five Olympic Games.

One of the favourites at the tournament will be the world number seven ranked Australian team, comprising Mariafe Artcho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy. This pair won silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Bronze at the 2018 FIVB World Tour Finals and are well on their way to qualifying for the 2019 World Championships and the 2020 Olympics.

Fellow Australian Olympians Nikki Laird and Becchara Palmer are playing in their first FIVB tour event as a combination. They had early success in the National Tour event in Cobram in January. Palmer is returning to the World Tour after playing only eight FIVB events since the London Olympics.

In the men’s the legendary Ricardo Santos from Brazil is teaming up with Alvaro Filho. Santos won gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics after securing silver at the Sydney 2000 Games.

Like the women’s draw there will be plenty of challengers coming from Australia in the mens.

Chris McHugh won gold at the Commonwealth Games with Damien Schumann. Both have new partners heading into VolleyFest. McHugh is teaming up with Zac Schubert. They recently won the Australian Tour event in Cobram, while Schumann is now playing with Cole Durrant.

VolleyFest starts with the Australian Beach Volleyball Championships from 1 to 3 March, followed by the NSW Beach Volleyball Schools Cup.

The FIVB World Tour three star event starts with qualification on 6 March before the main draw from 7 to 10 March.

Manly Beach will be transformed with assembly of the main stadium starting on 20 February. Alongside the stadium will be four outside courts.

VolleyFest offers equal prize money for men and women and is proudly supported by Destination NSW.

Volleyball Australia President, Craig Carracher “Volleyfest 2019 has attracted an unprecedented field of world class athletes never before seen in Australia.The quality of athletes are sure to put on a master class of beach volleyball on the sands of Manly and we are very excited to be hosting this exciting FIVB World Tour event. In its fifth year, VolleyFest is also an important event in the battle for qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games which adds to its excitement and spectacle as they will all be playing for keeps.”

Tickets are now on sale at https://2019volleyfest.eventbrite.com.au