Acapulco, Mexico, October 29, 2006 - For the first-time since the start of the 2003 season, the United States captured a pair of gold medals in a double gender SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event as reigning Olympic champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh won the women’s title here Sunday afternoon in the finals of the US$400,000 Corona Open on the Playa Tamarindos.
Both Corona Open gold medal wins were over teams from Beach Volleyball power Brazil as the second-seeded May-Treanor and Walsh followed American compatriots Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal to the top of the Acapulco Bay. It was May-Treanor and Walsh’s 24th SWATCH-FIVB World Tour title in 46 international starts since 2001 while Gibb and Rosenthal were winning for the first-time in six events.
May-Treanor and Walsh posted a 21-15 and 21-18 in 42 minutes over third-seeded Renata Ribeiro and Talita Antunes in the second meeting this week between the two teams. The Americans defeated Renata and Talita 21-16 and 21-19 Friday in a winner’s bracket match.
Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal earned the United States’ first Corona Open gold medal Saturday afternoon when the Americans completed their first season together by upsetting reigning Brazilian Olympic champions Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos 19-21, 21-16 and 15-13.
The last time two American teams captured SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medals in the same event was June 2003 when May-Treanor and Walsh joined their Athens 2004 Olympic teammates Dain Blanton and Jeff Nygaard in winning the titles at the double gender stop in Rhodes, Greece.
In addition to the sweep, May-Treanor and Walsh became the first American women’s team to win a FIVB Beach Volleyball event in Mexico as Brazilian tandems had posted gold medal finishes in the first three events, including a title by Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca in last year’s Corona Open event.
Juliana and Larissa, who defeated May-Treanor and Walsh for the 2005 Acapulco Bay gold medal, placed fourth this year on the Playa Tamarindos after losing the bronze medal match to fifth-seeded Nila Ann Hakedal and Ingrid Torlen of Norway 16-21, 21-17 and 15-9 in 67 minutes.
“First of all, I would like to congratulate the Norwegians for their first-ever medal,” said Walsh. “They played great against us in the semi-finals and we were very fortunate to win. Since the Brazilians will not be in the season finale next week in Thailand, we expect we’ll be facing Nila Ann and Ingrid sometime in the Phuket event.”
Walsh praised Renata and Talita for a strong showing in this year’s event, especially since the Brazilians failed to win a match in the 2005 Corona Open when they placed 25th. “Like any team from their country, Renata and Talita are a very tough to play. This event was the first time we have ever played them, so they presented us with some problems. They are young, aggressive and will be a challenge for any team on this tour.”
While May-Treanor and Walsh shared the $32,000 first-place prize in winning for the third-time this season in seven international Beach Volleyball events, Renata and Talita split $22,000 for their second silver medal in 2006 after losing the Madeira Island gold medal match to Juliana and Larissa last month in Porto Santo.
Seeded fifth in the 32-team Main Draw field, Hakedal and Torlen shared $16,000 third-place prize by defeating Juliana and Larissa for the first-time in 11 SWATCH meetings with top-seeded Brazilians as Juliana and Larissa’s streak of 17-straight medal finishes on the FIVB tour was snapped.
The 10th of 10 double gender events on the 2006 SWATCH calendar, the finale Saturday afternoon concluded the men’s 20th FIVB season. The 15th season of women’s SWATCH play ends in Thailand starting Wednesday in Phuket.