Rome, Italy, June 19, 2011—In another epic battle of Olympians that will live for the ages in the history of Rome, top-seeded Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca persevered to capture the women’s gold medal over fifth-seeded USA’s Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh at the $1 million FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Championships, powered by smart, 21-17, 13-21 and 16-14 in 46 minutes.
Sunny Roman skies bathed a world-championship crowd of more than 9,000 fans at the Foro Italico center court Sunday as 96 two-person teams representing 31 countries started the competition Monday on five purpose-built courts within the sprawling sports complex that included the featured center court within the newly constructed Rome tennis stadium.
In the bronze medal match, China’s eighth-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang defeated 22nd-seeded Czech Republic’s Lenka Hajeckova/Hana Klapalova, 21-14, 21-12 in 32 minutes. Xue/Zhang, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalists, improved their series record with Hajeckova/Klapalova to 5-0 with the victory. It was also the Chinese team’s second podium finish of the season, the first being a silver medal in Sanya.
Of the $1 million purse, the gold medal teams in each gender will split $60,000, the silver medal teams $45,000, the bronze medal teams $35,000 and the fourth place finishers will split $28,000.
Top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca secured their first world championship gold medal in four world championships as the Brazilians secured a Roman sweep for the South American country.
The world championship win followed two silvers and a bronze in the previous three world champions in 2005, 2007 and 2009. The Brazilian victory also snapped a 29-match winning streak for May-Treanor and Walsh in the world championship play as the Americans finished ninth in the 2001 worlds in Austria (3-1 record) before posting 7-0, 7-0 and 8-0 marks in the 2003, 2004 and 2005 events with a 7-1 mark this year. The Americans are now 32-2 in world championship play.
Juliana and Larissa, who are now 27-3 in world championship matches, are 27-4 this season to improve their career team mark to 486-85 (85.1%). The Brazilians have now won 39 of 57 FIVB gold medal matches as Sunday’s win also propelled Juliana and Larissa to the top spot in career team earnings for both men and women in the 25-year history of the international with US$2,222,650 for 89 events to move ahead of legendary Brazilians Shelda Bede/Adriana Behar (120 events, $2,207,965). May-Treanor and Walsh are now 22-6 this season as the Americans are 367-41 (90.0%) in 63 matches.
May-Treanor/Walsh are now 36-11 in international finals with 53 podium placements. By winning the last three meetings with May-Treanor and Walsh, Juliana and Larissa are now 6-11 against the Americans. Thirteen of the matches have been gold medal meetings with the Americans winning eight.
In the bronze medal match, Xue/Zhang had a 7-6 lead in the first set when they scored five straight points, including two aces by Xue and Hajeckova/Klapalova couldn’t get any closer than four the rest of the way. Xue ended with three aces and a block, and neither Chinese player had a hitting error in the first set.
In the second set, both teams opened up with 3-0 runs, and a block by Klapalova again tied the score at 8-8. Xue/Zhang combined for three aces during a 7-1 run to take a 15-9 lead. China led 17-12 and then scored the final four points of the match. Klapalova had three blocks in the final set and the Czechs had just one hitting error, but Xue/Zhang each had a pair of aces and the two players combined for 14 digs in the second set alone. The Czechs were denied the country’s second World Championships medal, while Xue/Zhang collected the third World Championships medal for China and their first as they also placed fourth in 2007.
“We’re very excited,” said Zhang after winning the bronze medal. “Yesterday we lost and we didn’t play well but we came back and we played better than yesterday and we played well. The win here gave us a good feeling, so I want to win again, again and again.”
The internationally-televised eighth FIVB Swatch World Championships started Monday with 48 men’s and 48 women’s teams and three days of round robin pool play. The women completed their round robin play Wednesday and the men Thursday and the top two teams from each pool along with the best eight third-place teams advanced to the 32-team single elimination phase that ultimately crowned the 2011 FIVB world champions.
The previous FIVB Swatch World Championships in the current format were held in Los Angeles (1997), Marseille, France (1999), Klagenfurt, Austria (2001), Rio de Janeiro (2003), Berlin (2005), Gstaad, Switzerland (2007) and Stavanger, Norway (2009). The first FIVB World Championships were held in Brazil in 1987, prior to the start of the current format that began in 1997.
After the FIVB Swatch World Championships, the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour takes one week off before it continues with three consecutive Grand Slam double-gender events: June 27 to July 3 in Stavanger, Norway (ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011), July 4-9 in Gstaad, Switzerland (1 to 1 Energy Grand Slam) and July 11-16 in Moscow (Moscow Grand Slam). The total prize money for each Grand Slam event is $600,000.
Also on the international calendar during this window and immediately following the FIVB Swatch World Championships will be the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Youth World Championships, for players under 19 years old, Tuesday through Sunday in Umag, Croatia.
More information on this year’s FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Championships presented by smart and the FIVB Swatch World Tour is available both www.fivb.org.
For more information contact:
FIVB Press Department Director
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