Was first known as a sport called Mintonette, created and played in 1895 in the USA. The sport has developed rapidly over the past 25 years to the point that there are now over 50 professional leagues throughout the world.
The sport was inducted into the Olympics in 1924 merely as a demonstration sport, but it wasn’t until the 1964 games that the sport became fully implemented into the Olympics. The USSR won the first two gold medals in '64 and '68 when the competition was a round robin system, which went to Japan in 1972. The Japanese were also strong in the women’s event winning the gold medal in 1964 and 1976.
The powerhouses in the men's game over the past decade have been the USA and Brazil with the latter grabbing gold in 2004 and then losing to the United States in a thrilling 2008 final.
The World Championships is also staged every four years two years either side of the Olympics with the men's competition dominated by Brazil winners of the '02, '06 and '10 competitions. The women's gold medal has been won by Russia for the past two championships, on each occasion they beat the Brazilian national team.
Beach volleyball was first played on the sands of California in the 1920's but took a long time to be recognized as a bona fide sport. It was only in the late 1930's that it was introduced into Europe and the first professional tournaments were held in the mid-70's in North America with typical prize money for the doubles being $5,000.
The first official World Beach Volleyball Championships were held in 1987, but the professional tour due to player power had massive setbacks when the associations for both male and female tours went bankrupt in 1998. The pro tour re-emerged in 2001 linked under one banner and popularity has been on an upward curve ever since.
Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor, who won the 2004 and '08 Olympic gold medals have been named as the greatest team in the sport with the latter having won the most pro tournaments of all time with 106 victories.
VOLLEYBALL WORLD CHAMPIONS
1982 SOVIET UNION/CHINA
1990 ITALY/SOVIET UNION