|SANTA PONSA, MALLORCA, July 11, 2004 - "Land-locked" Switzerland snared the top two podium spots for the first-time ever at an international Beach Volleyball event here Sunday as the Laciga brothers won for the third-time on this Mediterranean island by defeating Sascha Heyer and Markus Egger in the gold medal match of the US$360,000 Mallorca Open
With the 21-14 and 21-13 win in 33 minutes over the fifth-seeded Heyer and Egger, the Lacigas (Martin and Paul) snapped their 20-event victory drought on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour after winning here in 2002 for the second-time. The Swiss brothers also captured the 1999 European Championships in the seaside resort.
"This was our best event of the season, and obviously, we had control of the gold medal match throughout," said Paul Laciga. "This was a good week for us and I am extremely proud to win here for the third-time. This was a good way for us to end the Olympic qualifying process and launch our preparations for the Athens Games. And, we can not forget the accomplishment for our country to have two teams in the finals."
In sharing the $27,000 first-place prize, the third-seeded Lacigas have now finished first and second in their last two SWATCH-FIVB World Tour events. Prior to not playing in Norway last week, the Swiss brothers dropped a 20-22, 21-19 and 16-14 decision to Germany's Markus Dieckmann and Jonas Reckermann in the Berlin final two week's ago.
Playing in their 115th international Beach Volleyball event together, the Lacigas netted their fifth "open" SWATCH-FIVB gold medal. The Swiss brothers have won more money on the international tour than any other men's team as they need to win only $5,730 in their next event in France to hit the $1-million mark in career earnings. The Brazilian women's team of Shelda Bede and Adriana Behar top the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour earnings list with $1,721,215 in 85 events together. In addition to a gold medal, a Mallorca Open trophy and her share of the winnings, Martin Laciga was also awarded a SWATCH watch for her fastest serve in the finals (86.2 km/h).
For Heyer and Egger, it was their eighth match of the week as the pair dropped their first match Friday and had to win six-straight elimination matches to advance to the semi-finals. "It was a very long week for us," said Heyer, "and I think we played tired in finals. Coming all the way back through the elimination bracket is very tough and takes a lot out of you. The semi-final match was long and hard-fought."
Heyer and Egger shared $18,000 for the second-place finish. The No. 3-ranked Swiss team advanced to the finals with a 16-21, 21-15 and 15-12 win over fourth-seeded Mariano Baracetti and Martin Conde of Argentina. The Lacigas had an easier time with a 21-16 and 21-16 win over 24th-seeeded Fabio Magalhaes and Paulo Emilio Silva of Brazil.
The bronze medal match was not played as Baracetti had to retire from the competition due to a sore right shoulder. Magalhaes and Paulo Emilio earned their first-ever podium placement together and shared $14,000 for third-place while the Argentineans split $11,000.
The fourth of five-straight mixed gender events, the women's competition ended Saturday where top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca of Brazil scored a 21-17 and 21-12 win over second-seeded Suzanne Lahme and Danja Musch of Germany for the gold medal.