Beach volleyball first appeared in the early 1920s in Santa Monica, California. Then what started out as just some family fun became a sport spreading rapidly across the world. By the 1930s, the game had reached countries like Czechoslovakia, Latvia and Bulgaria.
Interestingly, beach volleyball really took off in the United States during the 1930s, perhaps as a little light relief from the Great Depression. The first official two-man tournament took place in 1947, and the first beach volleyball circuit, involving hundreds of players and five California beaches, began in the 1950s.
However it was the crossover with popular culture that really launched the sport. In the 1960s, The Beatles appeared at the legendary Sorrento Beach in Los Angeles for a quick hit and US President John F. Kennedy even went to watch a game. Its cool image was a sponsor’s dream and prize money soon poured into the sport.
Beach volleyball made its Olympic debut at the 1996 Atlanta Games. USA and Brazil shared all the gold medals in the subsequent four editions, except in Sydney where the Australian women’s team dominated.