Paris, France, July 29, 2006 - A capacity Champ de Mars centre court crowd of more than 6,000 saw Brazilians Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca avenged their 2005 Eiffel Tower failure by defeating Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the United States in the US$580,000 Henkel Grand Chelem women’s gold medal here Saturday afternoon.
With their 20-22, 21-15, 15-13 win in 66 minutes, Juliana and Larissa collected their second SWATCH-FIVB World Tour grand slam title this season and their 12th international crown since forming their partnership at the start of the 2005 season. It was also the Brazilians fifth gold medal this season in nine SWATCH starts in 2006 as Juliana was named the SWATCH most outstanding player for the event.
With six-straight wins in the competition, Juliana and Larissa also shared the $42,300 first-place prize to increase their career FIVB earnings total to $796,650 for 34 FIVB starts together. May-Treanor and Walsh had defeated the Brazilians 21-17 and 21-15 for the inaugural Henkel Grand Chelem last July.
Sunday’s win also spoiled May-Treanor’s birthday weekend as the two-time American Olympian turns 29 Sunday. Juliana and Larissa have now won two of the three meetings this season with the reigning Olympic and World champions, but May-Treanor and Walsh still lead the series 7-3. In SWATCH gold medal matches between the two teams, the Americans lead 5-3.
“Although the Americans won the first set, we still felt confident as were playing well,” said Juliana, who celebrated her 23rd birthday last Sunday in St. Petersburg with a Russian gold medal with Larissa. “I am just glad to beat them since they are a class team. If we both take care of business next week in Austria, there should be another classic match in Klagenfurt.”
Heading into next week’s Austrian Grand Slam, the young Brazilians have a 1,680-point lead over their nearest SWATCH rival (5,620 to 3,940 for China’s Wang Jie and Tian Jia) as Juliana and the 24-year Larissa are headed for their second-straight SWATCH season point’s title. The young Brazilians have now posted a 51-5 match mark this season with $262,900 in earnings.
May-Treanor and Walsh, who split $28,300 for second-place, are now 22-2 this season with both of their losses to Juliana and Larissa, who scored a 21-19 and 27-25 gold medal win over the Americans at Modena, Italy this past May. Prior to Saturday’s defeat, May-Treanor and Walsh had a 17-match winning streak.
In the bronze medal match, sixth-seeded Leila Barros and Ana Paula Connelly posted a 21-17 and 21-15 win in 46 minutes over third-seeded Brazilian rivals Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede to share the $22,100 third-place prize. Adriana and Shelda split $17,700 for fourth-place.
The sixth of seven-straight double gender events on the 2006 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, the men’s medal matches are Sunday where Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal of the United States challenge Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes of Brazil for the gold medal.