At the halfway point of the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour season, Beach Volleyball teams from Brazil continue to win a majority of the medals through the first eight men’s and women’s stops on the 2007 calendar as the two genders from the South American country have combined for 22 of the 48 possible medals.
Beach Volleyball tandems from the Netherlands and Estonia “surprised” the men’s field with gold medal finishes in Bahrain and Croatia, respectively, while Australian Olympian Natalie Cook returned to the top of a women’s podium with newcomer Tamsin Barnett with a title at a new SWATCH-FIVB World Tour stop in Seoul, Korea.
However, the “most stunning” moment during the first-half of the 2007 international campaign was a gold medal finish by Jen Boss and April Ross at the Norwegian grand slam in Stavanger where the Americans upset SWATCH-FIVB World Tour leaders Jia Tian and Jie Wang of China in the finale.
The Brazilian men and women have combined for nine gold medals and 29 “final four” finishes as reigning Olympic champions and 2003 SWATCH-FIVB World champions Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos lead the South Americans with a trio of first-places in Portugal, Paris and Montreal.
The Brazilian teams of Marcio Araujo/Fabio Magalhaes (Italy and Norway) and Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca (Poland and Portugal) have won two events each. Marcio Araujo and Fabio will defend their 2005 SWATCH-FIVB championship at the end of July in the Swiss Alps village of Gstaad.
Harley Marques and Pedro Salgado, a new pairing for the 2007 season, won the SWATCH 2007opener in Shanghai for Brazil’s first of six men’s gold medals. Joining Juliana and Larissa as Brazilian women gold medal winners were Talita Antunes and Renata Ribeiro at a new FIVB stop in Singapore.
Men’s teams from the Netherlands and Estonia captured the second and fourth SWATCH stops this season for their country’s first-ever “open” gold medals since the start of the FIVB tour in 1987. Overall, men’s teams from Europe have claimed seven medals followed by one each for Australia, China and the United States.
Dutch Volleyball Olympians Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil claimed the first Netherlands’ men’s gold in Bahrain where they upset Pedro Cunha and Franco Neto in the finals. Nummerdor and Schuil missed validating the Arabian Gulf gold by finishing second to Marcio Araujo and Fabio in Norway.
Estonia’s Kristjan Kais and Rivo Vesik won the Croatia event after losing their first match in Zagreb before winning their next eight matches to claim title by defeating the new Swiss pair of Patrick Heuscher and Sascha Heyer in the finale. Heuscher and Heyer also claimed a bronze medal in their first-ever FIVB event together in Shanghai.
Led by Tian and Wang, the Chinese women have matched the Brazilians with eight podiums this season. After winning the first event of the season in Shanghai by defeating Norway’s Nila Ann Hakedal and Ingrid Torlen in the finals, Tian and Wang have posted four seconds and a third in their next seven SWATCH starts. Chen Xue and Xi Zhang have finished second and third in eight FIVB events this year.
Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig almost matched Boss and Ross’ Norwegian “surprise” as the young Germans extended Juliana and Larissa to three sets before losing the Portuguese gold medal match. Like the Americans, Goller and Ludwig had to win their way to Espinho finale through the country quota and qualifying rounds.
Reigning Olympic and two-time SWATCH-FIVB World champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh have medaled in their first three international starts this season. The Americans won the Paris and Montreal stops by defeating teams from China in the gold medal matches. Tian and Wang defeated May-Treanor and Walsh in the Norwegian semi-finals to avenge the Paris title setback.
With the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games less than 14 months away, Cook’s win in Seoul puts her in good position for her fourth-trip to the Summer Games. However, knee problems at the Canadian stop might sideline 32-year old Cook for the last half of the season.
“I am excited about playing with Tamsin,” said Cook, who captured the first-ever Olympic Beach Volleyball medal with a third-place at the Atlanta 1996 Games with Kerri Pottharst followed by a gold at Sydney 2000. “I hope rest will help cure my knee problems. The gold medal in Seoul was very encouraging for Tamsin and me. We could be a factor also for London 2012.”
2007 Men’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour Recaps
Shanghai - Harley Marques and Pedro Salgado captured the Shanghai Open gold medal in their first SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event together by upsetting Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes in the All-Brazilian final. Salgado, a winner of three FIVB junior titles, and Harley completed a “perfect” week (6-0 match mark) as a “wild card” entry by posting a 15-21, 22-20 and 15-12 gold medal win over third-seeded Marcio Araujo and Fabio in 65 minutes. In the bronze medal match, the newly-formed Swiss team of Patrick Heuscher and Sascha Heyer scored a 21-19 and 21-17 win in 46 minutes over Igor Kolodinsky and Dmitri Barsouk, who became the first men’s team from Russia since 2001 to compete in a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour medal match.
Bahrain - In posting a 17-21, 21-19 and 15-13 win over fifth-seeded Pedro Cunha and Franco Neto of Brazil in 68 minutes, Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil became the first men’s team from the Netherlands to win a SWATCH gold medal in only their seventh FIVB start together. In the bronze medal match, Harley and Salgado defeated Germans Julius Brink and Christopher Dieckmann 21-19 and 21-12 in 46 minutes.
Roseto degli Abruzzi - The top two teams on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour the past two seasons competed for another international gold medal with Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes prevailing in three sets in the Italian Open over Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos to capture the All-Brazilian finale. Marcio Araujo and Fabio overcame an 11-10 deficit in the deciding set to score five of the last six points in the match to post a 23-21, 16-21 and 15-12 win over Emanuel and Ricardo in 80 minutes. In the bronze medal match, Kolodinsky and Barsouk defeated Spain’s Pablo Herrera and Raul Mesa 21-14 and 21-17 in 50 minutes. It was Russia’s second podium placement in SWATCH history. Sydney 2000 Olympians Sergey Ermishin and Mikhail Kouchnerev earned the first medal at the 2000 stop in the Canary Islands.
Zagreb - After more than four years together on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, Estonia’s Kristjan Kais and Rivo Vesik finally validated their feeling that they could compete against the best international Beach Volleyball teams by capturing the Croatian Open gold medal. The Estonians recovered from a first-round setback to a team from Germany to defeat Heuscher and Heyer of 21-19, 17-21 and 17-15 win in 66 minutes. In only the eighth All-European finale in 195 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour events, the Swiss also had to rebound through the elimination bracket after losing in the first round to a team from Japan. In the bronze medal match, Barsouk and Kolodinsky scored a 21-14 and 21-12 win in 41 minutes over Andrew Schacht and Joshua Slack of Australia. The win marked Barsouk and Kolodinsky’s second podium placement this season after Russia had managed only one SWATCH medal in the first 20 years of the international circuit.
Espinho - With their 18-21, 21-17 and 19-17 win in the 69-minute All-Brazilian finale over Cunha and Franco, Emanuel and Ricardo snapped their longest drought between gold medal finishes on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour since forming their partnership at the end of the 2002 season. Winners of a record 25 men’s FIVB titles in 60 international Beach Volleyball starts together, Emanuel and Ricardo had placed fourth, second, fifth, ninth, second and fifth in their last six SWATCH starts since defeating Cunha and Franco for a FIVB title last August in Stare Jablonki, Poland. In the 13th annual Portugal Open All-Brazilian bronze medal match, Marcio Araujo and Fabio posted a 21-16 and 21-16 win in 43 minutes over Harley and Salgado.
Paris - After finishing ninth and third in their previous two trips to the Eiffel Tower site, the “third-time was the charm” for Emanuel and Ricardo as the world’s No. 1-ranked team defeated Cunha and Franco 19-21, 21-17 and 15-12 in a 71-minute Paris grand slam finale. .Both teams suffered one defeat each earlier in the week as the Paris event started with pool play with the top three tandems in each pool advancing to the 24-team single-elimination bracket. While Emanuel and Ricardo had to play only three matches to reach their 36th FIVB finale, Cunha and Franco had to win four contests to reach their sixth SWATCH gold medal match. In the bronze medal match, Mike Lambert and Stein Metzger of the United States posted a 21-12 and 21-17 win over Julius Brink and Christoph Dieckmann of Germany.
Stavanger - Marcio Araujo and Fabio secured Brazil’s ninth-straight Norwegian grand slam title by posting a 21-14 and 27-25 win in 55 minutes over Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil of the Netherlands. The title was Marcio Araujo and Fabio’s second SWATCH gold medal this season and ninth in 35 FIVB starts. Nummerdor and Schuil were competing in their second SWATCH gold medal match this season as the Dutch pair rebounded from a 25th-place finish in Paris. In the bronze medal match, Penggen Wu and Linyin Xu held off the hard-serving Kolodinsky and Barsouk with a 21-18, 19-21 and 15-13 win in 66 minutes.
Montreal - A week after finishing in a tie for last in Norway, Emanuel and Ricardo completed a reversal of fortunes to capture the Montreal Open title with a 17-21, 21-14 and 18-16 win in 61 minutes over Australians Andrew Schacht and Joshua Slack. Emanuel and Ricardo have now earned all three Montreal Open podium spots the past three seasons at Stade Uniprix in Jarry Park, including a third in 2005 and a second 2006. Brazil claimed a second podium placement when Harley and Salgado scored a 21-15 and 21-16 win in 40 minutes over Jochem De Gruijter and Gijs Ronnes of the Netherlands.
2007 Women’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour Recaps
Shanghai - China captured its fourth gold medal in the last seven women’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour events when Jie Wang and Jia Tian outlasted Nila Ann Hakedal and Ingrid Torlen of Norway 14-21, 21-18 and 15-13 in 59 minutes. Norway’s emergence with one of the top women’s team has been fueled by three-straight “final four” finishes by Hakedal and Torlen, who posted their country’s best-ever women’s finish on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour by receiving the silver medal. In the All-Brazilian bronze medal match, Talita Antunes and Renata Ribeiro posted a 16-21, 21-17 and 15-10 victory in 50 minutes over Leila Barros and Ana Paula Connelly.
Singapore - Talita and Renata completed their most successful weekend in the past 20 months on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour as the young Brazilians “surprised” the top two teams on the international Beach Volleyball circuit to capture the Singapore Open on Siloso Beach. Talita and Renata won their first SWATCH stop since September 2005 to claim their third FIVB gold medal together by upsetting second-seeded Wang and Tian 21-15 and 21-19 in 43 minutes to avenge an earlier defeated in the competition to the Chinese pair. In the bronze medal match Chen Xue and Xi Zhang posted a 21-18 and 21-9 win over Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca of Brazil. It was the young Chinese pair’s fifth SWATCH medal together in 15 FIVB starts as Xue and Zhang snapped a four-match losing streak to the Brazilians.
Seoul - It has been six years, but Australian Natalie Cook returned to the top spot of a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour podium with new partner Tamsin Barnett to capture the Seoul Open by defeating the top-seeded team from China for the gold medal. In claiming her fourth FIVB title since starting her international Beach Volleyball career 120 events ago in 1993, the 32-year old Cook and Barnett shared the first-place prize after a 21-19 and 21-19 win over Wang and Tian in the 44-minute gold medal match. In the second All-Brazilian SWATCH bronze medal match in 2007, Juliana and Larissa defeated Leila and Ana Paula 25-23 and 21-18 in 45 minutes.
Warsaw - Within minutes after claiming their 15th SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medal, Juliana and Larissa were running for cover as the finale of the Warsaw Open ended with a downpour. But the downpour started on the centre court when Juliana and Larissa’s hard-hitting attack produced a 21-18 and 21-17 win in 46 minutes over Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede in the first All-Brazilian finale on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour. In the bronze medal match, Xue and Zhang denied Brazil a podium sweep as the young Chinese posted a 21-18 and 21-14 victory over Talita and Renata in 39 minutes.
Espinho - Brazilians won five of the six medals in Espinho starting with a first and third in the women’s competition before the men sweep the Espinho podium. Juliana and Larissa captured their 16th SWATCH title with their 17-21, 21-16 and 15-13 win in 58 minutes over Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig, who were seeking Germany’s first-ever women’s SWATCH gold medal. In the bronze medal match, Talita and Renata out-lasted Vasso Karadassiou and Vassiliki Arvaniti of Greece 21-15, 17-21 and 16-14 in 61 minutes.
Paris - Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh “followed their game plan” to gain revenge and to regain the top of the podium in front of Eiffel Tower by defeating Tian and Wang of China 21-15 and 21-12 in 42 minutes. The Americans avenged an elimination setback to the Chinese in the 2006 Austrian grand slam. In addition, May-Treanor and Walsh regained the Paris title after losing the 2006 gold medal match on the Champ de Mars to Juliana and Larissa in three sets. A year earlier on May-Treanor’s 27th birthday, the Americans defeated Juliana and Larissa in the inaugural Paris finale. Tyra Turner and Rachel Wacholder claimed the bronze medal for the United States with a 21-17 and 21-16 win over Juliana and Larissa. Not counting the 2006 SWATCH season finale in Thailand, the Paris podium failed to have a Brazilian women’s team claiming a FIVB medal for the first-time since August 2005 in Austria.
Stavanger - - In “one of the most stunning upsets” in the 15-plus-year history of the women’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, Jen Boss and April Ross captured the Norwegian Grand Slam. As the lowest-seeded team (29) to win a SWATCH title since the start of the international Beach Volleyball circuit in 1992, Boss and Ross posted a 21-14 and 21-12 gold medal win over Tian and Wang in 44 minutes. Boss and Ross were playing their 11th match of the week after advancing from the country quota playoffs, the qualifier, pool play and elimination rounds to win their last seven matches. In the bronze medal match, May-Treanor and Walsh scored a 21-15 and 21-13 win in 36 minutes over Goller and Ludwig. It was the Americans second Norwegian Grand Slam win over Goller and Ludwig as the Germans dropped a pool play match to May-Treanor and Walsh.
Montreal - In a preview of a possible Beijing 2008 Olympic Games match, May-Treanor and Walsh reclaimed the Montreal Open gold medal for the United States as the reigning Olympic and world champions defeated the Chinese tandem of Chen Xue and Xi Zhang for the gold medal at Stade Uniprix in Jarry Park. With both teams leading candidates for Beijing Olympic berths, May-Treanor and Walsh posted a 21-16, 16-21 and 15-12 win in 54 minutes over Xue and Zhang to win their second gold medal on the Stade Uniprix centre court after capturing the inaugural Montreal Open in 2002. In an All-Brazilian Montreal Open bronze medal match, Adriana Behar and Bede out-lasted Leila and Ana Paula 23-21 and 21-19 to claim their 85th SWATCH-FIVB World Tour medal in 115 international starts since 1995.