Beijing, China, June 11, 2011 – Beijing Olympic champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerry Walsh of the United States were crowned here on Saturday at the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour Beijing Grand Slam after holding off German giant killers Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler 21-14, 24-26 and 15-9 in the worldwide televised women’s gold medal match.
Bouncing back from an opening loss to compatriots Angie Akers and Nicole Branagh in pool play, May-Treanor and Walsh claimed six straight victories to reap their 14th Grand Slam title and 36th FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour championships together and split the top prize of $43,500.
“We are very happy to win the tournament. Everybody showing up for this tournament will show up next week (in Rome). No matter they are 32nd or 31st, everybody wants to win,” said May-Treanor at the post-game press conference. “I am just proud of our team, proud of how we stick together after we lost the first match in the pool play and we were able to bounce back and just get stronger to win the tournament.”
The 32-year-old Walsh, a mother of two kids, is also proud of herself. “I work very hard and I had a lot of support. I had an amazing partner, I had an amazing husband and I want this very badly. This is my dream to be a mother and to be competing in the sport I love. When you have a big dream, you’ll do everything to make it happen.”
Having squandered an 8-4 lead to allow the German duo take a come-from-behind win in the second set, May-Treanor/Walsh pulled away from an 8-6 lead in the tiebreaker and concluded the match with a 7-3 run.
“We are very happy to be back here. We had so many great memories in 2008 and we created a lot of new great memories, so we look forward to coming back again.” Walsh added.
The 31st seeded Holtwick/Semmler, who ousted top seeds Juliana Felisberta Da Silva and Larissa Franca and second seeds Maria Antonelli and Talita Da Rocha Antunes of Brazil on their way to the final, were quite satisfied with their first silver medal in Grand Slam events.
“We are really happy to finish with a silver, that’s not what we expected, we were seeded in 31st, really low, and we lost two in pool play. But we beat Juliana/Larissa in the knockout stage and that’s a dream come true for us. After that, we just felt that nobody could stop us,” said Ilka Semmler.
Following a disappointing 17-21, 21-13 and 15-13 loss to May Treanor/Walsh in Saturday morning’s semifinal, Ross/April recollected themselves in the afternoon to beat Italy’s 14th seeds Greta Cicolari/Marta Menegatti 21-18 and 21-18 in 41 minutes for the bronze medal.
“It’s mentally and physically very challenging,” said Kessy. “We only had a few hours, luckily we had one hour more than the Italians. They had a later match this morning, maybe that helped. And they played really well, that’s the best they played against us. They played really tough and luckily we came on top today.”
“The whole tournament I felt we played really well. We had a really tough match in the semifinal,” said Ross. “She didn’t fell great, she was a little sick and that hurt us a little bit. We managed to rest a little bit and come back strong in the bronze medal match, so we are very happy to get on the podium.”
Ross/Kessy, who split $23,000 with the third finish, has put their eyes on the upcoming World Championships in Rome, where they will come out as defending champions.
“We want to do the best we can, we want to get on the podium, we want to get to the semifinal and hopefully win the tournament,” Ross said.
The inaugural $600,000 Beijing Grand Slam is the third of 12 double-gender events on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour, which also includes three single-gender events for women, two single-gender events for men and a special 24-team Olympic test event in London August 9-14. The World Championships will kick off on Monday in Rome.