The 23-year-old had an incredible 2019. With his partner Viacheslav Krasilnikov, they were the first Russian pair to win a Beach Volleyball World Championship. They also won the World Tour Finals in Rome alongside winning 4-star events in The Hague and Xiamen.
Stoyanovskiy has been living between his homes in Moscow and in the Russian countryside, and was separated from his partner after the FIVB 4-star in Doha in March.
“I think it’s pretty much the same as an off-season. There is just a little bit more of a pre-season, so we will have more time for practice.”
When Krasilnikov and Stoyanovkiy joined forces in 2018, it certainly raised a few eyebrows in the volleyball world. Krasilnikov, a physical and athletic defender, who is extremely dynamic and makes the demands of playing left side seem simple, was always going to be a mouth-watering match for Stoyanovskiy’s 2.07m blocking frame.
Oleg is a modern day beach volleyballer. He is big at the net, fast and light on his feet, whilst possessing the technical ability of players much smaller than him. Even though the world champions have had lots of success already, Oleg suggests there is still a lot of improving to be done. Last season was only their first together.
“We are still in the early stages of our partnership. We have a lot to improve. We’re very young as a team. It was only the first year for us. We are trying to find out how we can interact on and off court. For sure we need to keep concentrating through this time so that we can do our best on the court in the future.”
Like many beach volleyball teams around the world, Russia haven’t been training over the past couple months. And Stoyanovskiy knows that fitness is going to be key when getting back to business in the near future. The blocker doesn’t have a weights programme as such, but works with his strength coach on lots of body weight exercises.
“We need to gain the same amount of muscle mass as before. After a long time off, we all lose our power and strength. It’s going to be hard work coming back to physical shape.”
Their last competition on the World Tour was in Doha in mid-March, where the world champions finished 5th losing to eventual runners-up and surprise package from Mexico, Josue Gaxiola and Jose Rubio. The Russians were disappointed to lose and take a fifth, but Stoyanovskiy says the team were planning for the more ‘global goal’ of the Olympics... and that losses like this happen when periodisation and planning is to ‘perform at later competitions’. The team weren’t in peak shape due to the competition being early in the season.
Stoyanovskiy is as calm in his approach to the Olympics as he is on a beach volleyball court.
And although Stoyanovskiy is 23 years old, he is part of a new generation of young blockers who will still be at the top of the sport for a long time to come. Players like himself, Anders Mol and Julius Thole are all 23 years of age or under, and look set to dominate for some time.
“In my opinion, the best blockers right now are Anders Mol, Michal Bryl, Alison Cerutti, Paolo Nicolai, Konstantin Semenov and Robert Meeuwsen,” says Stoyanovskiy.
“Some of them are strong physically and they all put a lot of pressure on the net.
“Some have a lot of experience and have been around a lot of years. Volleyball has changed and the more experienced blockers have had to change with it. If you manage to combine the two 'superpowers' of being physical and putting pressure on the net, you will dominate over others.”
“I can’t speak on behalf of all beach volleyball community but it will be an interesting time ahead, as it’s the first time in history without volleyball for a long period of time. But it could be a problem. Competition is very important for every athlete and even a key part of preparation.”
As Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Viacheslav Krasilnikov look to the future, they are currently trying to find ways to create training camps and practices to get back to some normality. But until then they will be working on being as fit as possible in the build-up to a very important 2021. It’s going to be an intriguing season as the head coach of team Viacheslav Nirka has stated that ‘there are 10-12 teams who could win any event’.