Osaka, Japan, August 06-10 2003
BEHAR-SHELDA AIM FOR SIXTH OSAKA GOLD
The city of Osaka, the second largest in Japan, has been a regular stop on the women's SWATCH Beach Volleyball World Tour for the past nine years, and this season the finest women players will once again return to the impressive beaches of Osaka Bay to celebrate the 10th staging of the $150,000 Women's Japanese Open.
Known as the 'City of Water', Osaka's ongoing relationship with the FIVB is further illustrated by the fact it is the only destination on the World Tour to have a permanent beach volleyball stadium, a superb facility on Tannowa Beach with four side courts and an entertaining hospitality village.
Tannowa Beach is also home to of one of the sport's most enduring records, and this season the Brazilian pair of Adriana Behar-Shelda will attempt to win gold in Osaka for the sixth consecutive year.
In 2002, the dynamic Brazilian duo overpowered compatriots Ana Paula-Minello 21-17, 14-21, 18-16 to secure their first gold medal of the year.
But it was a hard-fought victory for Adriana Behar-Shelda, second on last season's World Tour rankings, being forced to save four match points against their home rivals before emerging victorious. "It seems that the Osaka sand is good for us," said a delighted Shelda Bruno Bebe after winning her first gold for two years.
Last year's World Tour champions, America's Kerri Walsh and Misty May, took the bronze medal after fighting back from a set down to defeat the Netherlands's Leenstra-Kadijk R. 18-21, 21-12, 15-8.
It was a valiant effort from the Dutch pair and their Osaka performance equalled their best ever placing in a World Tour event.
Sadly, the highly vocal local fans saw their hopes shot down in the last 16, when Japanese duo Ryoko Tokuno and Chiaki Kusuhara were defeated 21-12, 21-18 by Brazil's Barros-Sandra Pires.
After the 10th staging of the Japanese Open, the women's SWATCH Beach Volleyball World Tour moves on to Maoming in southwest China for the $150,000 Chinese Open.
1. Adriana Behar-Shelda (BRA)
with Shelda Bruno Bede - Profile
with Adriana Behar - Biography
2. Ana Paula-Minello BRA
Paula Connelly Biography
3. Walsh-May (USA)
with Kerri Walsh and Misty May
Misty May - Biography
Kerri Walsh - Biography