The two-year Continental Cup came to a conclusion at the
World Cup Finals in Campinas in Brazil and while the host
nation’s fans were delighted with victory in the men’s and
women’s competitions,
looks at the impact it
had one of the smaller nations that competed.
There was double Brazilian joy on the sand of Campinas as Maria
Antonelli and Talita da Rocha Antunes reunited for one last time
to win gold in the women’s event, while FIVB world champions
Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego matched their compatriots’
efforts in the men’s competition.
Antonelli and Talita defeated US Olympic silver medallists Jennifer
Kessy and April Ross 2-0 (23-21, 21-12) in the final. In the bronze
medal match Germany’s Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler held off
the impressive Australians Taliqua Clancy and Louise Bawden to
finish the tournament in third place.
In the men’s final, Jacob Gibb and his new partner Casey Patterson
were unable to hold off the power of Alison and Emanuel, but
their silver medal maintained their remarkable start to life as a
new US team since the start of the year. Latvia’s Janis Smedins and
Martins Plavins meanwhile matched their efforts from the London
Olympic Games by claiming the bronze medal.
However, the idea of the Continental Cup and the World Cup
Final – the brain child of FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça F° – was
to spread the sport and widen the amount of countries that had
the chance to compete at the highest level.
One such country was the Mauritius women’s team of Prisca
Seerungen and Marie Heidy Bauda, who had the ominous task
of facing Antonelli and Talita early in the tournament. Just under
a year ago the Brazilian duo were two of the teams Seerungen
watched on television during London 2012 and now they were
playing them in the world debut.
We knew who we were going to play against first, we just had
to enjoy the moment, but it was very difficult – against Brazil,”
Seerungen said after the Brazilians had won 2-0 (21-6, 21-4).
Seerungen is a physical education teacher in Mauritius and
recorded some of the games to show her students. The pair lost all
three of their matches 2-0, but were aware that they were taking
important steps in the country’s and continent’s development in
the sport.
We don’t have professionals,” she said. “We only do our sport
after long days of work, and it’s pretty tough to go after work and
give 100%, you only give what you can give. These teams have big
sponsors so they don’t have to work, they can play all day long, but
in Mauritius we have to care for our job first.”
Seerungen and Bauda’s participation in Campinas was the latest
step in the recent ascendancy of the island country’s involvement
in beach volleyball, a rise that started in 2011 with a gold medal
in the All Africa Games for Natacha Rigobert and Elodie Li Yuk Lo.
Victory followed in the CAVB Continental Cup and with it an historic
spot for Rigobert and Li Yuk Lo at the 2012 Olympic Games, a year
after they had appeared at the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball World
Championships in Rome.
Kayseeven Teeroovengadum, former president and now general
secretary of the Mauritius Volleyball Association, is as aware as his
players that their playing standards are not comparable, but he
remains very much an enthusiastic supporter of the Continental Cup
concept and the opportunities it provides for smaller countries like