Paris, France, June 22, 2008 - It was like two different Beach Volleyball tournaments at one SWATCH FIVB World Tour stop this weekend for reigning Olympic champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh in capturing their third Henkel Grand Chelem gold medal in four years here Sunday on the Champs de Mars.
With a 21-13 and 21-13 win in 36 minutes over 11th-seeded Tyra Turner and Rachel Wacholder, May-Treanor and Walsh started the US$600,000 Henkel Grand Chelem competition by defeating teams from France, Cuba, Germany and Austria before finishing the with three-straight victories over American rivals to share the $43,500 first-place prize.
“Yes, it was like playing in two different events,” said the 30-year old May-Treanor, who was named the SWATCH most outstanding player for the Henkel Grand Chelem. “We do not like playing teams from our country since each one is competing for a spot in the Olympics. That is the way it is, so we have to play the match.”
Before competing in their 42nd SWATCH gold medal match, May-Treanor and Walsh posted wins Saturday over seventh-seeded compatriots Jen Boss and April Ross (21-16 and 21-18) in the quarter-finals followed by a 21-18 and 21-18 triumph in 43 minutes over fourth-seeded Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs in the semi-finals.
Sunday’s SWATCH title was May-Treanor and Walsh’s 33rd gold medal finish in 57 FIVB events since the start of the 2001 season. The Americans had broken the record for most SWATCH wins by a team last week in Berlin with Brazilians Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos tying the mark the next day in the German capital. This week, Emanuel and Ricardo placed ninth in the men’s competition.
May-Treanor and Walsh also extended their SWATCH FIVB World Tour match winning streak to 55 in defeating Turner and Wacholder for the fifth time internationally and the 18th-time overall without a loss. May-Treanor and Walsh’s last setback on the SWATCH circuit was last year in the Norwegian Grand Slam when China’s Jia Tian and Jie Wang posted a 21-19 and 21-19 victory in the Stavanger semi-finals.
Turner and Wacholder, who split $29,500 for their silver medal finish, have now placed the past two seasons in the Henkel Grand Chelem after winning the bronze medal last year by defeating Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca in the third-place game. Turner and Wacholder have now sandwiched two silver medal placements around not qualifying for last week’s event in Berlin.
With Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs of the United States winning the bronze medal with a 21-15 and 21-18 win in 45 minutes over the sixth-seeded Jia Tian and Jie Wang of China on Sunday, the United States swept the SWATCH FIVB World Tour podium for only the second-time in the 17-year history of the women’s international circuit. Branagh and Youngs, who how have earned six SWATCH medals in 17 FIVB starts together, split $23,000 for third-place while the Chinese shared $18,400.
Wacholder, Walsh and Youngs were all part of the initial 1-2-3 American finish in 2004 in Norway. Youngs and Holly McPeak defeated Annett Davis and Jenny Johnson Jordan for the gold medal in Stavanger with Wacholder and Walsh placing third as May-Treanor was sidelined with injuries for the Olympic qualifying event.
The Henkel Grand Chelem also featured the men’s gold medal match Sunday where Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers gave the United States both SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medals by scoring a 21-15 and 21-17 win in 47 minutes over Reinnder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil of the Netherlands.
The third of six SWATCH FIVB World Tour Grand Slam stops on this season’s calendar starts Monday in Stavanger as three events remain on the qualifying schedule for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Moscow and Marseille hosts the final two events to help determine the 24-team field each for the men and women in the Beach Volleyball competition in the Chinese capital August 9-22.