Stavanger, Norway, July 3, 2011 - In a classic battle of the ages, Brazil’s seasoned veterans Marcio Araujo and Ricardo Santos captured the men’s gold medal over Poland’s youthful rising stars Grezgorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel to conclude the $600,000 FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011.
The 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour was back at the majestic Vaagen Harbour venue in Norway since Monday as the double-gender event celebrated the 13th consecutive visit by the World Tour with Stavanger hosting its first men’s event in 1999 and its first women’s event in 2002.
Winning the gold medal in straight sets, Brazil’s third-seeded Marcio Araujo/Ricardo defeated Poland’s 13th-seeded Fijalek/Prudel, 21-18, 24-22 in a 44-minute finale in front of another packed house of several thousand enthusiastic fans at the Vaagen Harbout centre court.
FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour
Stavanger Grand Slam, Norway | June 27-July 2
Men | Women
The third of seven “major” tournaments on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour schedule, the FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011, the winning pairs in Stavanger will in each gender will share the $43,500 first-place prizes. Silver medalists will split $29,500 while bronze medal winners will divide $23,000 and the fourth place finishers will receive $18,400.
While this was the 19th career gold medal for Marcio Araujo, 37, and the 50th career FIVB gold medal for Ricardo, 36, it was just the first golden moment in the 15 FIVB tournaments they have played together since forming their partnership in 2010. For Marcio Araujo/Ricardo, this was their eighth final four placement as a team, following their silver medal performance two weeks ago at the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Championships in Rome. Marcio Araujo/Ricardo improved their series record with Fijalek/Prudel to 3-0.
For Poland’s youthful Fijalek, 23, and Prudel, 25, it was their first silver medal and fifth final-four placement in 31 FIVB international tournaments together. Fijalek/Prudel had their first podium finish in 2010 when they won the bronze medal in Marseille, France.
In the first set of the championship match, Marcio Araujo/Ricardo battled closely with Fijalek/Prudel, slowing pulling away at the end for the final three-point set margin. The score was tied early four times, the last at 4-4, and after Marcio Araujo/Ricardo built a seven-point lead at 16-9 before Fijalek/Prudel rallied to three set points after trailing 20-15.
Brazil scored first in both sets and in the deciding second set the young Poles tied the match at 20-20 and hung in till the end when Brazil scored the final two points on a kill and a block by Ricardo. Fijalek/Prudel tied the match at 15-15 for the first time, and stayed close to the finish, holding off four set points before Ricardo’s block finished it.
While this was the first gold medal for the Marcio Araujo/Ricardo team, both have won in Stavanger before as Marcio won a gold medal with Fabio Luiz Magalhaes in 2006 and Ricardo has won the gold medal on Vaagen Harbour center five other times (2000 with Ze Marco de Melo and 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 with Emanuel Rego).
Following an obviously meaningful gold medal victory for the veteran Brazilian players, Marcio commented, “After all these years it was amazing to win a gold with Ricardo, who is one of the greatest all-time beach volleyball players is very, very special. We played really good against some very tough teams in this tournament but Stavanger has been very special to Ricardo and I separately, now we can share the joy of Stavanger together.
“The young Poland team is very, very good and they have a great future in this sport and I am sure we play against them many more times. I am sure our experience helped us some today in beating them, but we have a bigger goal to qualify for the 2010 London Olympics as a team.”
Marcio Araujo has participated in two Olympics with a ninth in 2004 with Benjamin Insfran and a silver medal in 2008 with Fabio while Ricardo won the silver in 200 with Ze Marco, the gold in 2004 and the bronze in 2008, both with Emanuel Rego.
In the bronze medal match, after losing the first set, Germany’s fourth-seeded Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann met the challenge of their opponents and the boisterous Norwegian fans that packed the Vaagen Harbor center court to defeat Norway’s ninth-seeded Tarjei Skarlund/Martin Spinnangr, 17-21, 21-13 and 15-11 in 54 minutes.
For Germany’s Brink/Reckermann, the bronze was the eight in their FIVB career together as well as being their 19th final four placement in the 23 FIVB Swatch World Tour events they have played together. For Brink/Reckerman as a team, this is their second Stavanger medal having won the gold medal at the 2009 FIVB Swatch World Championships on the Vaagen Harbour center court. In addition to the bronze medal this year, Brink/Reckerman leave Stavanger with a 6-2 match record for the tournament. Brink also won a bronze medal in Stavanger with Christoph Dieckmann in 2008, the same tournament that Reckermann won the silver in with Mischa Urbatzka.
In finishing fourth, Norway’s Skarlund/Spinnangr earned their second final four finish in 28 FIVB tournaments together. Last year the popular home-country Norwegians won the silver medal here in Stavanger. They ended this year’s Stavanger event with a 5-3 record, a final four placement and thousands of enthusiastic Norwegian fans who packed the center court stadium for each of their matches.
In Sunday’s semifinals that started in late morning as the massive Queen Victoria cruise ship was docking adjacent to the Vaagen Harbour center court, Brazil’s Marcio Araujo/Ricardo won a tight two-set battle over Germany’s Brink/Reckermann, 27-25, 21-19 in 50 minutes and in the second center court battle, Poland’s Fijalek/Prudel silenced the home-country crowd that packed center court by defeating Norway’s Skarlund/Spinnangr, 21-14, 21-14 in 37 minutes.
In the Brazil-Germany semifinal, the first set was tied 20 times and Germany had set point once and Brazil six times before it end. In the second set, the score was tied 14 times before a Mauricio Araujo scored on a poke for a key point and a 20-18 lead and Araujo ended it on a kill to move into the final. The series record between the two teams is now tied at 1-1.
In the second semifinal between Poland and Norway, Poland’s Fijalek/Prudel machine-like effort saw no ties in the first set as Poland jumped out 2-0 and methodically built its lead to 17-10 before Norway’s Skarlund/Spinnangr whittled the deficit to five before Prudel ended the set with a massive kill. In the second set, the score was tied briefly at 1-1 until Poland’s strong defensive play gradually widened the gap to 14-10, keeping the spread until scoring the final three points of the set to win the match in two. With the win, the series record between the two teams now stands at 4-1 in favor of Fijalek/Prudel.
The 2011 calendar features 15 women's and 14 men's events, including 12 double-gender tournaments, within all five FIVB confederations plus one special 24-team single-gender women’s test event held August 9-14 at London’s Horse Guards Parade, the venue for beach volleyball at the 2012 London Olympic Games. The 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour is offering $7.64-million in prize money. Twelve of the tournaments are combined men's and women's events, including the World Championships and all six Grand Slam stops.
After this week in Stavanger, the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour continues with two more Grand Slam double-gender events: July 4-9 in Gstaad, Switzerland (1 to 1 Energy Grand Slam) and July 11-16 in Moscow (Moscow Grand Slam). The total prize money for each Grand Slam event is $600,000.
The FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011 was the 224th women’s event and 263rd men’s event on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour (open, grand slam, Olympic and Goodwill). The first men’s FIVB Swatch World Tour event was played February 17-22, 1987 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the first women’s event was played August 14-16, 1992 at Almeria, Spain.
For more information on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour or the event, please visit www.fivb.org. For information on the FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011, please visit the event website at www.wtstavanger.com.