Mariehamn, Aland, Finland, August 19, 2007 - It was another Brazilian sweep of international Beach Volleyball gold medals this weekend highlighted by a pair SWATCH-FIVB World Tour titles at the US$400,000 PAF Open where Harley Marques and Pedro Salgado captured the men’s title here Sunday.
With Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca netting the women’s gold medal here Saturday, the fourth-seeded Harley and Salgado scored a 21-18 and 21-18 win in 55 minutes over third-seeded Jonas Reckermann and Mischa Urbatzka of Germany to share the $32,000 first-place prize.
Earlier Sunday in Beijing at the $50,000 “test” event for the 2008 Olympic Games, Vivian Cunha and Angela Vieira gathered Brazil’s second gold medal of the weekend by defeating a team from China in the finals. Later Sunday, the teams of Fabio Guerra/Roberto Lopes and Joao Maciel/Bruno Oscar Schmidt will vie in an All-Brazilian finale at a FIVB satellite event in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Sunday’s title was the third-straight Brazil versus Germany gold medal match on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour and the fourth in 2007. The South Americans have won each time to improve their record in finals over the Europeans to 12-3 since the start of the men’s international Beach Volleyball tour in 1987.
“This win is special since I never thought I would have a chance to win two FIVB gold medals this season,” said the 21-year old Salgado, who was named the SWATCH most outstanding player for the inaugural PAF Open. “We lost to the Germans last week in Norway, so it was good to get some revenge today. I am very happy and look forward to a week off to visit some friends in Oslo before going to St. Petersburg and Poland for the next two events.
In becoming the first player to win multi-SWATCH gold medals at the age of 21, Salgado also doubled his mother’s (Isabel) gold medal effort on the international circuit. “Mama” Salgado won her only gold medal at a 1994 women’s stop in Miami while her son collected his first title earlier this season in Shanghai with Harley.
Reckermann and Urbatzka, who dropped last week’s SWATCH finale in Kristiansand to reigning Olympic champions Emanuel and Ricardo, split $22,000 for their second-place finish. The German’s “road to the finals was earned the hard way” through the elimination bracket after losing a first-round match Thursday to 30th-seeded Jorre Kjemperud and Tarjei Skarlund of Norway.
“We were just trying to survive after losing in the first-round,” said the 28-year old Reckermann. “We were just taking it one match at a time. Sunday was our ninth match of the competition. We are glad that we had a good night sleep and time to prepare for the finals after winning three tough matches Saturday. It is always tough to play the Brazilians, especially in the finals. Harley and Pedro brought a lot of energy to the match today and we had some chances before Mischa hurt his right shoulder.”
The PAF Open title match was stopped twice in the second set due to Urbatzka’s shoulder problem as the 24-year German was hurt after digging the “Mikasa” at the start of a play and became worst when he finished the action with an attack at the “SWATCH” net that made the score 17-15 in the fnal set.
“We wanted to finish the set to give this great crowd a complete match,” said Reckermann, who won two SWATCH gold medals in 2004 with his Athens Olympic partner Markus Dieckmann. “Mischa could not hit, so we just tried to score by shooting the ball. It is tough to beat any team if you can not swing properly.”
In the bronze medal match, 11th-seeded Florian Gosch and Alexander Horst became only the second team from Austria to capture a Beach Volleyball medal on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour by posing a 21-13, 17-21 and 16-14 win in 62 minutes over Kjemperud and Skarlund to claim the $16,000 third-place prize. The Norwegians shared $12,000 for fourth-place.
After a week off, the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour resumes in Russia (August 28-September 2) for the 12th of 13 double gender events on the 2007 calendar. The St. Petersburg stop will be the women’s last European appearance while the men conclude their schedule on the continent with a stop in Poland September 5-9 in Stare Jablonki.