Berlin, Germany, June 14, 2008 - Reigning Olympic champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh set a record for team gold-medal finishes on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour here Saturday afternoon as the Beach Volleyball tandem for the United States defeated Jia Tian and Jie Wang of China for the US$600,000 smart Grand Slam title.
Played before a capacity crowd of more than 5,000 in front of the German capital's main train station at the Washingtonplatz, the top-seeded May-Treanor and Walsh posted a 21-18 and 22-20 win in 45 minutes over the seventh-seeded Chinese pair to share the $43,500 first-place prize. Tian and Wang split $29,500 for second-place.
In winning for the seventh-straight time on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour, May-Treanor and Walsh increased their career international gold medal count to 32. The Americans had been tied with the legendary Brazilian tandems of Emanuel Rego/Ricardo Santos (men) and Adriana Behar/Shelda Bede (women) with 31 SWATCH medals entering this week's smart Grand Slam.
"We are so glad to be in the same company with those two great teams," said the 29-year-old Walsh. "Records are made to be broken, but for today, Misty and I can claim to be on top of list. It has taken a lot of hard work over years and I am very lucky to have a great partner. We'll celebrate tonight, but it is back to work for next week's Grand Slam event in Paris."
May-Treanor, who was named the SWATCH most outstanding player for the 12th annual smart Grand Slam, also won a women's record 35th SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal as she had captured three titles with Holly McPeak in 2000, including a stop in Berlin. Walsh earned her 34th FIVB title as he claimed two gold medals with Rachel Wacholder when May-Treanor was sidelined with injuries in 2004
Both the Americans and the Chinese had to win morning semi-final matches to advance to their third SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold-medal meeting. May-Treanor and Walsh have now won five of seven matches from Tian and Wang, including other gold-medal victories last season in Paris and in Switzerland at the 2007 SWATCH FIVB World Championships in Gstaad.
With 48-straight wins since last losing last June at the Norwegian Grand Slam in Stavanger to Tian and Wang (21-19 and 21-19), May-Treanor and Walsh also broke a record for most consecutive match victories on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour for both men and women. The Americans held the previous mark at 47 as the streak ended in 2004 at a stop in Berlin when May-Treanor was forced from the German stop due to an abdominal strain.
Three of May-Treanor and Walsh's wins in the 2008 smart Grand Slam were over teams ranked behind the Americans on the qualifying list for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, including a 21-17 and 21-12 semi-final win Saturday morning in 39 minutes over Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca of Brazil. May-Treanor and Walsh now have an 11-3 match mark against the Brazilians.
With 6,040 qualifying points for their best eight finishes on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour since May 2007, May-Treanor and Walsh lead the ranking list followed by Tian/Wang (5,380 points), Juliana/Larissa (5,280) and Chen Xue/Xi Zhang of China (4,380). The Americans scored a 21-16, 16-21 and 15-12 win over Xue and Zhang Friday.
May-Treanor and Walsh have now captured the last three women's gold medals in Berlin, including the 2005 SWATCH FIVB World Championships and the 2007 smart Grand Slam. In both tournaments, the Americans defeated Juliana and Larissa in the gold-medal matches. Overall, May-Treanor and Walsh have a 27-4 match mark in Berlin with 21-straight wins. Two of the four defeats were by forfeit in 2004.
In the bronze-medal match, Juliana and Larissa scored a 21-11 and 22-20 win in 41 minutes over eighth-seeded Jen Boss and April Ross of the United States to split the $23,000 third-place prize. Boss and Ross, who were defeated 21-16, 16-21 and 15-12 win in 46 minutes by Tian and Wang in Saturday's second semi-final, shared $18,400 for fourth-place.