|MARSEILLE, FRANCE, July 18, 2004 - Brazil's Benjamin Insfran and Marcio Araujo continued their winning ways against Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel here Sunday afternoon after defeating the Switzerland Beach Volleyball team for the eighth-time in nine meetings in the men's finals of the US$560,000 World Series 13.
The 12-21, 22-20 and 15-12 win in 52 minutes over the third-seeded Heuscher and Kobel marked the first gold medal finish this season in six events for fourth-seeded Benjamin and Marcio Araujo, who won three titles last season enroute to becoming the No. 2-ranked team on the Olympic qualifying list for the 2004 Athens Gamres.
"We struggled early due to injuries and my recovery from an appendix operation in March," said Marcio Araujo. "As I mentioned yesterday, I think the two weeks off from the SWATCH Tour really helped us. I think we were a lot fresher than most of the teams this week. After the first set, we started playing better in the wind and controlling the ball much better. Those were tough conditions for both teams."
Ranked behind fellow Brazilians Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos (3,920 to 3,128) on the qualifying list for Athens for a teams best eight finishes on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour from January 2003 through last weekend, Benjamin and Marcio Araujo split the $41,500 first-place prize. Marcio Araujo was also presented the the SWATCH fastest serve awardo (85.6 km/h).
Heuscher and Kobel, who also missed the last two SWATCH stops in Norway and Mallorca, split $27,500 for the silver medal finish. Kobel was forced to retire from last month's German Grand Slam due to a calf injury. Prior to Berlin stop, the Swiss tandem had won the Gstaad event in the Swiss Alps by defeating Markus Dieckmann and Jonas Reckermann of Germany in the finals.
"We just don't play well against them," said Heuscher, who rank fifth on the Olympic qualifying list behind the Swiss Laciga brothers (Martin and Paul) and Dieckmann and Reckermann. "There is a reason why they are the second-ranked team on the list. They are talented, experience and competitive. It is never easy playing them, especially in this win. We just could not control the ball in the final two sets"
Argentina's Mariano Baracetti and Martin Conde were awarded the bronze medal and shared $21,500 for their fifth podium placement this season. Todd Rogers and Sean Scott forfeited the third-place match due to injury. The Americans split $16,900 in placing fourth for the second time in 2004.
Sunday's World Series 13 action will also feature the women's finals where the United States has already secured the top two spots on the podium. Second-seeded Kerri Walsh and Rachel Wacholder defeated fourth-seeded Annett Davis and Jenny Johnson Jordan for the $41,500 first-place prize.