Halifax, Nova Scotia, September 2, 2012 – Shining as bright as the Canadian sunshine glistening off the Halifax Harbor water and the shimmering sands of the SEA stadium center court Sunday, Poland’s Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak overcame Switzerland’s Mirco Gerson/Gabriel Kissling to earn the men’s gold medal at the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH Junior World Championships for players under the age of 21.
With the tournament’s final four teams all from different European countries, earning the bronze medal was Germany’s Dominik Stork/Fabian Schmidt.
The world’s best young adult men’s teams competed in the SEA complex as this year’s 12th annual double-gender event with 26 countries represented began Wednesday in Halifax, a regional municipality of nearly 400,000 residents located in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, which is located on the east coast of Canada.
In front of an enthusiastic capacity crowd at the SEA stadium center court for the Halifax men’s gold medal match, Poland’s third-seeded Kantor/Losiak ended their sterling under-21 career by storming past Switzerland’s fifth-seeded Gerson/Kissling, 21-15, 21-14 in the 36-minute gold medal finale.
In the men’s bronze medal match, Germany’s eighth-seeded Dominik Stork/Fabian Schmidt battled three sets and literally outlasted Russia’s fourth-seeded Andrey Bolgov/Artem Kucherenko, 25-23, 22-24 and 15-11 in 55 minutes, the second-longest men’s match of the tournament.
The five-day world championship event was held at the purpose-built beach volleyball SEA complex on the Salter Lot of the Halifax Waterfront which featured the 3,000-seat SEA stadium center court. This was not only the second time in the event’s 12-year history that it was held in North America, it was also the second straight year in Halifax.
GOLD MEDAL MATCH REVIEW
The gold medal match displayed the experience, strength and athletic skills of Poland’s Kantor/Losiak as the struck early and often in both sets against Switzerland’s talented, but much less experienced Gerson/Kissling taking large early leads in both and then fending off the challenges by the Swiss attempting to get back in the match.
Both 20 years old, Poland’s Kantor, who lives in Dabrowa and Losiak, who resides in Jastrzebie, were the 2011 Halifax silver medalists Kantor/Losiak. They also won the gold medal at the 2010 FIVB SWATCH Youth World Championship in Porto, Portugal.
Poland’s Kantor/Losiak are easing into their next level, the professional FIVB SWATCH World Tour, where took weeks ago in their home country, the finished an impressive ninth in the Mazury Orlen Grand Slam in Stare Jablonki. They have played in 13 FIVB SWATCH World Tour events over their last four years.
“What a great place and a great way to end our junior careers,” said a happy Losiak following the gold medal victory. “Piotr and I were kind of flat when we first got here and after losing to the Americans we reminded ourselves that after last year losing in the gold medal match we had some unfinished business here in Halifax. We played like we are capable of and we look forward to becoming fulltime on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour. It really feels special to end this part of our career with a gold medal and a silver medal in the junior world championships and a gold medal in the youth world championships.”
In addition to their gold medal, Poland’s Kantor/Losiak leave Halifax this year with a 5-1 record. They were upset in the opening pool play match of the tournament in three sets by USA’s 19th-seeded Weston Carico/Parker Kalmbach, but came back to dominate their next five matches, winning each in two sets, on the road to the championship.
Switzerland’s Gerson/Kissling were fifth here in Halifax last year and leave this year’s event with a 5-1 record in addition to their silver medal. Because of the age limit, this was also their final participation in the FIVB SWATCH Junior World Championships.
For Poland, this was their fifth final four finish in this event and fifth medal including two gold medals, two silver and one bronze. For Switzerland, this was their first final four finish as a country and obviously their first silver medal.
BRONZE MEDAL MATCH REVIEW
Germany’s Stork, 20, who lives in Ebersberg, and Schmidt, also 20 and who lives in Ortenberg, dueled to the very end with Russia’s Bolgov/Kucherenko as both sides took leads, rallied back from deficits deciding the first two sets in overtime with Germany winning the first and Russia the second.
In the tie-breaker third set at the score 11-8 in favor of Germany, Russia called a medical time out for Artem Kucherenko who returned to play but Germany’s Stork/Schmidt survived to the finish to earn the bronze medal.
In their first international tournament as a team, Stork finished ninth in Halifax last year with a different partner and won the bronze medal in the 2010 FIVB SWATCH Youth World Championships in Porto, Portugal.
Russia’s Bolgov, playing with a different partners, was fifth last year in Halifax and fourth in 2010 in this tournament when it was held in Alanya, Turkey.
In the 12-year history of this tournament, Germany now has seven final four finishes, four medals including three bronze and one silver. This was Russia’s fifth final four finish, second fourth place finish and the country also has three bronze medals.
Starting Sunday’s final day of play in this year’s championships at the SEA stadium center court was the men’s semifinals. In the first semi, Switzerland’s Gerson/Kissling overpowered Germany’s Stork/Schmidt in straight sets, 21-15, 21-15 in 35 minutes.
In the second semi, Poland’s Kantor/Losiak broke up two sets that both started out close to overwhelm Russia’s Bolgov/Kucherenko, 21-12, 21-14 in just 30 minutes.
FROM HALIFAX TO...
The gold medal team in each gender in Halifax will also be rewarded by the FIVB and the organizers with wild cards and free transportation and an automatic main draw berth in a FIVB SWATCH World Tour event in 2012 or 2013.
MORE INFO, PLEASE
A total of 2,000 tons of special sand has been transported to the Salter Sand complex to build the four competition and two practice courts for the venue, which includes the 3,000-seat stadium center court.
Produced by Canada’s Sports and Entertainment Atlantic (SEA) in association with Volleyball Canada and the Lausanne, Switzerland-based Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), more information is available at www.fivb.org and during the event, all SEA stadium center court matches were webcast on the event website at www.sandjamhalifax.ca.
Also on-site in Halifax was an IMG production crew who are developing special segments from both the men’s women’s competition to air in the near future on the highly-acclaimed, internationally-syndicated weekly FIVB SWATCH World Tour highlight shows.
A founding province of Canada, Nova Scotia is nearly surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, and is known for its high tides, lobster, fish, blueberries and apples. Halifax was the site of the first British town in Canada, founded in 1749. Since then, the area has evolved to be home for charming fishing villages, farming communities and Atlantic Canada's largest city. Halifax, the gateway to Atlantic Canada, has flourished as a prominent port city. Halifax was founded in 1749 by Governor Edward Cornwallis and 2,500 settlers to act as a naval and army base to protect the area, creating Canada’s first permanent British town on the world’s second-largest natural harbor. The peninsula, which Halifax is located on, is 4.5 miles wide and two miles long.
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