The iconic venue,
extending into the adjacent
St James’s Park, was overlooked by Big Ben
and the London Eye while the magnificent Old Admiralty
building provided the most sumptuous of backdrops. A total of 96
of the world’s finest beach volleyball players, 24 teams per gender,
took full advantage of their special stage, which also played host to a
volunteer work force of nearly 275 gracious people. They catered to
the needs of all of the participants and spectators, over 425,000 of
whom enjoyed the most athletic beach party anyone could remember.
The competitions themselves were full of drama and surprise. The
women’s event produced the first all-American final after Olympic
debutants Jen Kessy and April Ross had surprisingly knocked out
world champions and No.1 seeds Larissa França and Juliana Felisberta
in the semifinals. In the final, however, they were no match for their
compatriots, Misty
May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, who
took their third straight Olympic gold medal while
Larissa and Juliana settled for bronze.
The top-seeded men’s pair, Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti of Brazil,
also failed to win gold after being beaten in the final by Julius Brink
and Jonas Reckermann, who became the first German pair to win
gold in any volleyball event and the first Europeans of either gender to
win beach volleyball gold. Bronze medallists Martins Plavins and Janis
Smedins won Latvia’s first medal of any kind at the 2012 Olympics.
Cover Story
A unique chapter in the history of Horse Guards Parade