Umag, Croatia, June 26, 2011—As the sparkling sand of Umag’s center court settled for the final time Sunday, Poland’s Karolina Baran/Katarzyna Kociolek were crowned women’s world champions as the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch Youth World Championships concluded. While Poland’s Baran/Kociolek won the gold medal, the silver went to Austria’s Lena Plesiutschnig/Katharina Schutzenhofer and capturing the bronze medal was China’s Lingling Lin/Changning Zhang.
The world’s best young women’s best teams competed since Wednesday on the sun-baked Umag sand at the 10th annual double-gender event for players under 19, that concluded Sunday evening under the lights at the impressive ATP Stadion-Umag, a professional tennis complex nestled around a luscious lagoon on the gentle shores of the peaceful Adriatic Sea.
In the Umag women’s gold medal match, Poland’s 15th-seeded Baran/ Kociolek won the crown over Austria’s eighth-seeded Plesiutschnig/Schutzenhofer, 21-19, 21-14 in a 34-minute women’s finale.
In the women’s bronze medal match, China’s third-seeded Lin/Zhang came from behind in a hard-fought match to defeat France’s 19th-seeded Pauline Martin/Lisa Menet-Haure, 20-22, 21-17 and 15-11 in 48 minutes.
In Sunday night’s medal matches under the setting Croatian sizzling summer sun with refreshing Adriatic Sea breezes cooling the evening air but not the medal matches on the Umag center court.
Poland won its second gold medal and recorded its sixth women’s team ever in the final four of the FIVB Swatch Youth World Championships. Austria made its first final four appearance with their fourth place finish in the 10-year history of this event.
Poland’s Baran/Kociolek, who are both just 16 years old, finished with a 6-1 match record and a gold medal in this tournament with all six of their wins lasting just two sets. Austria ended their tournament in Umage with a 5-2 record and a final four placement with their four place finish.
After the gold medal match Kociolek commented, “The match was difficult, but we started playing better and everything went well, we played a good match and won. When we arrived in Umag, I hoped that we would be in the final four, but I really didn't expect us to become the FIVB Swatch World Champions, especially because this was our first time at the world championships.”
The bronze medal match marked the first time a team in either gender from China earned a medal and it was the first time a women’s team from France earned a final four placement.
In leaving Umag, China’s Lin/Zhang had a 4-3 match record. France’s Martin/Menet-Haure leave Croatia with a 6-3 record and they were the only team in the final four that started the tournament by winning two qualifying matches on Wednesday.
Lingling Lin said that she and Zhang were very happy to end their tournament on center court. “It was very hot down on the court and the French team played well, but we played hard, never quit and finally won,” Lin said afterwards. “It was the first time we have ever played in a medal match, so this is a great success for us, especially as we also won the first medal for China ever in the FIVB Swatch Youth World Championships.”
Admission to the event was free, but generous donations were accepted at the gate to help the Play of Japan campaign, to assist with the reconstruction efforts in Japan in the areas hit by the devastating earthquake. A total of 73 teams (38 men and 35 women) from 29 countries were in Umag for the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch Youth World Championships.
A total of 1,900 tons of special sand was transported to the ATP Stadion complex to build the four competition and two practice courts for the venue. The sand was brought from Cazma, Croatia, which 370 kilometers east of Umag near Zagreb, Croatia’s capital.
Sport TV of Croatia taped a special highlight show including action from the semifinals and medal matches for each gender. An IMG television crew was also on-site to produce special segments from both genders to air internationally on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour highlight shows to air later this summer.
The 2011 FIVB Swatch Youth World Champions in each gender will be rewarded a “wild card” by the FIVB for a future FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour event during the final months of 2011 or during the 2012 season.
This year’s international event was produced by the Croatian Volleyball Federation in association with MPG of Zagreb, Croatia. MPG has produced four FIVB Swatch World Tour men’s events in Zagreb and this is the first international beach volleyball event ever held in the colorful resort area of Umag.
More information on the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Championships is available at both www.fivb.org and the Croatian Volleyball Federation at www.odbojkanapijesku.com.