Larnaka, Cyprus, July 14, 2012—As the sparkling sand of Larnaka’s center court settled for the final time Sunday, an all-Poland gold medal match saw Michal Bryl and Kacper Kujawiak crowned men’s world champions as the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH Youth World Championships, the 11th annual event for players under 19 held in a special purpose-built complex featuring the stadium center court at Finikoudes Beach on the shores of the glistening waters of the peaceful Mediterranean Sea.
The world’s best young men’s tandems qualified for Larnaka and have been competing since Wednesday on the sun-baked Larnaka sand. The championship started with each team playing three round-robin pool play matches Wednesday and Thursday, when the field was reduced to 24 duos (the top three in each pool) from the original the field of 32 men’s teams in the double-gender event resulting in the final four for Saturday’s closing day.
In the Larnaka men’s gold medal match which was the first time in the 11-year history of the event that teams from the same country met for gold, Poland’s 24th-seeded Bryl/ Kujawiak won the crown over third-seeded compatriots Lukasz Kaczmarek/Sebastian Kaczmarek in three sets, 12-21, 21-19 and 15-7 in the 47-minute gold medal match in front of an enthusiastic standing-room-only Larnaka stadium center court crowd.
While the tournament started with 63 total teams from 34 nations, the final four in each gender were all from European countries, the two teams left standing in the final battle for the gold leave Larnaka with incredible memories and a life-time experience.
Both undefeated before the final match began, Poland’s champions Bryl, 17, and Kujawaik, 18, leave Cyprus with a perfect 7-0 won-loss match record while Poland’s Lukasz Kaczmarek/Sebastian Kaczmarek (no relation) finish with a 6-1 record and a silver medal. Lukasz Kaczmarek was attempting to become the first player in the history of this FIVB event to win the gold medal twice as he won the gold medal last year in Umag, Croatia, playing with Macjej Kosiak.
In the men’s bronze medal match, Russia’s fifth-seeded Viacheslav Kirienko/Dimitry Uraikin recovered from their semifinal setback to defeat Austria’s eighth-seeded Martin Ermacora/Lukas Stranger, 21-14, 21-12 in 44 minutes. Russia’s Kirienko/Uraikin finish with a 6-1 won-loss record in Larnaka while Austria’s Ermacora/Stranger has a 5-3 record.
In Saturday night’s medal matches started under the setting sizzling summer sun and finished under the summer stars of a Cyprus night with refreshing light Mediterranean Sea breezes cooling in the evening air but not the action of the medal matches on the Larnaka center court.
Poland won its fourth men’s gold medal, earned its second silver, ninth total medal and recorded its 11th men’s teams in the final four of the FIVB SWATCH Youth World Championships. The total medals, total gold, total silver, total bronze and total final fours leads all countries in this championship. With the bronze medal, Russia now has four total men’s medals, two bronze, and four final four placements.
Meeting in the first men’s semifinals Saturday afternoon, Poland’s Bryl/Kujawiak methodically mastered Russia’s Kirienko/Uraikin, 21-16, 21-16 in a 40-minute match that was the first meeting between the two developing teams.
In the second semi, Poland’s third-seeded Lukasz Kaczmarek/Sebastian Kaczmarek broke open a close match to overwhelm Austria’s eighth-seeded Martin Ermacora/Lukas Stranger, 21-19, 21-13 in 35 minutes.
In the exciting all-Poland men’s gold medal match, Lukasz Kaczmarek/Sebastian Kaczmarek, both 18 years old, started very strong, dominating the first set 21-12 against their compatriots whom they practice and compete against daily back in Poland. Poland’s Bryl/Kujawiak weren’t ready to let the opportunity go and rallied in the second set to win 21-19 after their compatriots had taken an 18-16 lead. In the deciding tiebreaker third set, Bryl/Kujawiak played like champions on fire winning the tiebreaker, 15-7 and tasted the gold.
After what many would consider an upset, Poland’s Bryl said, we play all the time with them and they are really, really good, but we weren’t about to just let them have it. We practice every day together and know each other’s tactics very well. We weren’t nervous playing them in the final and it was just our night. Most of all we are so happy for Poland to win both the gold and silver medals in the FIVB SWATCH Youth World Championships.”
In the bronze medal match, Russia’s Kirienko/Uraikin broke out early and stayed there in both sets to earn Russia’s second men’s bronze medal in the history of this event, their fourth medal and fourth final four finish. For Austria, this was their first final four finish for a men’s team in the FIVB SWATCH Youth World Championships.
After competing last year and not earning a final four spot while playing with a different partner, Russia’s Kirienko said, “After last year, I set a goal to win a medal this year and we did it. It was a tough tournament with great competition and the weather was so humid it affected everyone to a degree. Our bronze medal match wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but after the Austrian player had to take a medical time out after getting a bloody nose from being hit with the ball, I think the complexion of the match changed.”
Cyta TV of Larnaka broadcasted the medal matches for both genders live on Saturday evening. An international IMG television crew was also on-site to produce special segments from both genders to air on the FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour highlight shows to air worldwide later this summer.
The 2012 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 2012 or during the 2013 season.
After staging three FIVB Challenger events (2006, 2007, 2008) Cyprus has again returned to the world stage as Larnaka, a popular tourist destination, is hosting the 2012 FIVB SWATCH Youth World Championships for players under the age of 19. This year’s 11th annual double-gender event started Wednesday and will conclude Saturday.
An extremely amicable host city, Larnaka is a city of 72,000 located on the Southern Coast of Cyprus and third largest city in the island country in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
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