Phuket, Thailand, November 4, 2007 - In the first All-American women’s finale on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour since August 2005, reigning Olympic and three-time world champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh tied the international Beach Volleyball mark for most team gold medals here Sunday by winning the US$200,000 Phuket Thailand Open powered by ptt.
With a 21-18, 16-21 and 15-13 win in 58 minutes over fourth-seeded Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs, May-Treanor and Walsh secured the $32,000 first-place prize while capturing their 31st SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medal to tie the record established by the legendary Brazilian pair of Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede.
Sunday’s gold medal victory was also the 41st-straight SWATCH win this season for May-Treanor and Walsh, who won seven of their eight FIVB starts this season with a 53-1 match mark and $309,500 in earnings. The American’s only FIVB setback was in the semi-finals at the Norwegian grand slam in Stavanger where China’s Jia Tian and Jie Wang posted a 21-19 and 21-19 win over May-Treanor and Walsh.
In defeating Branagh and Youngs for the fifth-straight time on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, May-Treanor and Walsh have a 15-2 edge in the series with their American rivals with both Branagh and Youngs’ victories being on the United States domestic tour earlier this season. Counting both FIVB and domestic wins, May-Treanor and Walsh finished the season with 20 titles for 23 events with a 129-4 match mark.
May-Treanor and Walsh’s 31 SWATCH gold medals were achieved in only 55 FIVB starts since the formation of their partnership in 2001. Adriana and Shelda’s 31st SWATCH gold medal was achieved in their 87th FIVB event at a 2004 stop in Milan, Italy. Sunday’s title was also May-Treanor and Walsh’s second gold medal in nine Asian FIVB starts with the first being at a 2002 SWATCH stop in Maoming, China.
Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos hold the men’s record with 30 SWATCH titles in 69 FIVB starts as the Brazilians captured the men’s 2007 season finale at the end of September in Fortaleza where May-Treanor and Walsh claimed the women’s title a day earlier in the South American coastal city.
“This was not our best tournament of the year,” said the 29-year old Walsh, who saw her team drop three sets in the Phuket Thailand Open competition to teams Ukraine, Brazil and the United States. “Competing against Nicole and Elaine is always tough since we have played them so many times in the last 14 months. Nicole had by far her best tournament and we are very fortunate to win today.”
May-Treanor, who was named the SWATCH most outstanding player for the Phuket Thailand Open, also extends her record for most women’s FIVB gold medals by a women’s player with her 34 title in 68 international Beach Volleyball starts. Three of her gold medals were with Holly McPeak in 2000. Walsh has 33 SWATCH titles in 59 FIVB events with two gold medals in 2004 with Rachel Wacholder when May-Treanor was sidelined with an abdominal strain.
Branagh and Youngs finished the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour season with three-straight podium placements with the $22,000 second-place prize for the Phuket Thailand Open silver medal their best international finish together. The Americans were playing their ninth match Sunday after losing in the second-round Thursday to Tyra Turner and Wacholder. Branagh and Youngs avenged the setback Saturday to advance to the semi-finals.
Second-seeded Jian Tian and Jie Wang of China captured the bronze medal and the $16,000 third-place prize with a 21-18 and 21-15 win in 38 minutes over 14th-seeded Rieke Brink-Abeler and Hella Jurich of Germany, who were appearing in their first ever international Beach Volleyball semi-final. The Germans split $12,000 for fourth-place.
The 2008 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour is scheduled to start at the end of March with an inaugural event in Adelaide. A total of 13 women’s Olympic qualifying events are on the provisional SWATCH calendar until the end of the Beijing process July 20, 2008. The Beijing 2008 Olympic Beach Volleyball competition will be held August 9-22 at the Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground.