Prague, Czech Republic, May 11, 2008 - The Prague 2008 Open was a week full of Beach Volleyball revenge for Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal as the Americans won all six of their SWATCH FIVB World Tour matches highlighted by Sunday afternoon's gold medal victory over Julius Brink and Christoph Dieckmann of Germany.
In completing their requirement of eight SWATCH FIVB World Tour to gain consideration for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, the 13th-seeded Gibb and Rosenthal won their second international Beach Volleyball title together here Sunday at the US$175,000 Prague 2008 Open by scoring a 21-13 and 23-21 in 47 minutes over the 11th-seeded Brink and Dieckmann.
With over 4,000 fans watching the inaugural event on the picturesque River Vltava island at the Stvanice Stadium, Gibb and Rosenthal shared the $28,000 first-place prize in claiming their second SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal. The Americans' first title was in the 2006 season finale in Mexico as Gibb and Rosenthal failed to reach a FIVB "final four" in six SWATCH starts last season.
"I think the big difference is that I am playing a lot better this year," said the 32-year old Gibb. "With this event being part of the Olympic qualifying process, I realized that we did not help ourselves a lot last year in making it to Beijing. We were more focused with our preparation this year and it has helped us in getting two the semi-finals in our first two FIVB events this season."
Gibb and Rosenthal, who was named the SWATCH most outstanding player for the Prague 2008 Open, placed fourth in the 2008 FIVB opener in Adelaide, Australia, after collecting two fifths, a ninth, a 13th and two 17ths in 2007.
Four of the six wins for Gibb and Rosenthal avenged setbacks in the previous matches with opponents from Russia, Austria, the Netherlands and Saturday afternoon when the Americans scored a 21-17, 17-21 and 18-16 win in 70 minutes over reigning Olympic champions and second-seeded Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil.
"We did not think a lot about revenge," said the 27-year old Rosenthal, who was the 2006 SWATCH FIVB World Tour rookie-of-the-year after Gibb captured the award in 2005 when he played with Stein Metzger. "We just focused on playing better against those teams. Each of our wins was over teams that probably will be in Beijing, so we really had a productive week. We still have two more events left in Europe before returning home, so the competition will now get a lot tougher."
The Germans split $19,500 for their silver medal finish as the two teams were competing for a SWATCH title for the second-time after Brink and Dieckmann had defeated the Americans for the gold medal in October 2006 in Vitoria, Brazil. Gibb and Rosenthal had also dropped a SWATCH finale in July 2006 to Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes of Brazil.
"Give the Americans a lot of credit for playing very well today," said the 32-year old Dieckmann, who claimed his seventh SWATCH medal with Brink in 23 FIVB starts with his 25-year old partner. "We had our chances to send it to a third set after playing very poorly in the first set. They made some big plays at the end."
In the bronze medal match, Emanuel and Ricardo maintained the Brazilian men's streak of nine-straight SWATCH podium finishes for teams from the South American country by out-lasting seventh-seeded Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil of the Netherlands 21-18, 19-21 and 15-11 win in 61 minutes.
The Brazilians, who now have 50 FIVB medals (31 golds, 10 silvers and nine bronzes) in 72 international Beach Volleyball events, shared $14,000 for third-place. Nummerdor and Schuil, who lost to Brink and Dieckmann in Saturdays's semi-finals 21-18 and 21-15, left the Czech Republic capital with $10,500 for fourth-place.
The men's SWATCH FIVB World Tour continues in Europe for stops in Italy (Roseto degli Abruzzi, May 13-18) and Croatia (Zagreb, May 20-25). The next SWATCH-FIVB World Tour double gender event is set for Barcelona, Spain (May 26-June 1). The women were idle this week with Asian stops the next two weeks in Korea (Seoul, May 13-18) and Japan (Osaka, May 20-25) before heading to Barcelona.