Umag, Croatia, June 26, 2011—Shining as bright as the Croatian stars above and the lights illuminating the Umag center Court Sunday, Poland’s Lukasz Kaczmarek/Macjej Kosiak overcame Norway’s Runnar Sannarnes/Andreas Takvan to earn the men’s gold medal at the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch Youth World Championships, the 10th annual double-gender event for players under 19.
The five-day, double gender event was held for the first time in Croatia as the world’s best young men’s best teams competed since Wednesday on the sun-baked Umag sand 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 battle for the gold medal match, Poland’s third-seeded Kaczmarek/Kosiak came from behind in an extremely tight struggle to the end, to defeat Norway’s 12th-seeded Sannarnes/Takvan, 17-21, 21-19 and 15-13 in the 43-minute title finale on Umag’s center court. In the tie-breaker final set, both teams took leads of two points and it was tied seven times before Kaczmarek/Kosiak closed the match with the final two points to decide the world championship.
Combined with the women’s gold medalists Karolina Baran/Katarzyna Kociolek, Poland won both championship crowns Sunday in Umag. It marked the first time Poland has accomplished double gold medals in the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch Youth World Championships and only the second time in the 10-year history of the event as Germany did it in 2003 when the event was held in Pattaya, Thailand.
In another monumental struggle for the bronze medal, Canada’s eighth-seeded Grant O’Gorman/Aaron Nusbaum went back and forth before earning the medal over Switzerland’s 10th-seeded Benjamin Lerch/Dennis Lerch, 21-15, 23-25 and 15-13 in 53 minutes.
Norway had its first team ever in the final four of the FIVB Swatch Youth World Championships for either gender and it was the ninth Polish team in the final four and fourth in the gold medal match.
In the combined history of this event, Germany leads all countries with 13 total medals (four for men and nine for women) and final four finishes with 15 total (six for men, nine for men). Poland is still in second but has increased its count to 10 total medals (seven for men and three for women) and in final four finishes with 13 (eight for men and five for women).
Poland’s Kaczmarek/Kosiak finished the tournament with a perfect 7-0 record and the gold medal while Norway’s ended with a 6-1 record in this tournament and left Umag with the silver medal.
This was the second time in the 10-year history of this event that there will be teams from Poland in both the men and women’s gold medal matches. In 2004 in Temoli, Italy, Poland’s Katarzyna Urban/Joanna Wiatr won the gold medal and Poland’s Zbigniew Bartman/Michal Kubiak captured the men’s silver medal.
In the afterglow of their gold medal victory, Poland’s Kosiak joyfully stated, “It was a crazy match. We lost the first set and in second we were losing 7:3, but we won and we won the tiebreaker. In third set we were leading 14-13 and used the first match ball to win. It is incredible! I believed we would win all the way, even when we lost a set. It is a great day for Poland and Polish beach volleyball as we have two gold medals, for men and women and that's great!"
This was the first medal in this event for Canada which previously had two fourth place finishes for men and none for women while Switzerland earned their first final four finish for men to go along with one for women.
Canada’s Nusbaum/O’Gorman leave Umag with a bronze medal a 6-1 final record while Switzerland’s Lerch brothers end their trip to Croatia with a final record of 4-3 and a final four finish.
Said Nusbaum following his team’s victory, “The match was very entertaining, you know, up and down and lots of pressure. You're one point down and you want to get that side out to tie it back up. We missed the side out and that's it, we lost the second set, but came back strong in third to win the last few points in a row so that was a good win for us. I think it's great that we are third best in the world on this level and lots of pressure is taken off our shoulders knowing that we finished the way we did. We wanted to be in the finals tonight, but we didn't make it, so we made up for that with this match. I'd say my partner sided out very well, had some great receives, clutch digs and clutch balls and we won the bronze medal for us and Canada.”
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.