London, Great Britain, July 28, 2012 – Back on the stage were he has performed so well during the last three Olympic Games, Brazil’s legendary Ricardo Santos opened pool play Saturday with new teammate Pedro Cunha with a resounding victory to close the first day of the beach volleyball competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games over Norway’s Tarjei Skarlund/Martin Spinnangr in the purpose-built, sold-out 15,000-seat stadium on the grounds of the iconic Horse Guards Parade in historic central London.
The beach volleyball action created a lot of interest from fans and celebrities alike and none more so than Beatles legend Sir Paul McCartney and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan who took in the action court side.
Thundering over the sand in Horse Guards Parade like the calvary that has so gallantly done so for so many years as one of 24 teams in each gender competing in London, Brazil’s Cunha/Ricardo ended the third session of the day by winning a crowd-pleasing match over Norway’s Skarlund/Spinnangr, 21-14, 21-18 in 37 minutes.
Cunha commented after his team’s win, “I don’t want to be a dud. I want to give Ricardo another medal and a gold one for sure. A gold medal is possible for us. I think we can go all the way. I was very excited at the start of this weekend and very nervous going to my first Olympic games with an Olympic champion. Ricardo doesn’t give me a lot of advice, he just prods me along to do my best. He’s got this huge confidence and I look in his eyes and see the confidence and that inspires me.”
Brazil’s second men’s duo is a new team as well with the veteran Ricardo, 37, a three-time Olympic medalist with a silver in 2000 with Ze Marco de Melo, a gold in 2004 and a bronze also with Emanuel Rego in 2008, is teamed with a younger player as well in Cunha, 29. As a team, Cunha/Ricardo have played in just 14 international events together and yet still managed to qualify for this year’s Olympics with six final four appearances earning four gold medals and two bronze. As a team, Cunha/Ricardo now have a 60-20 record in international play.
In the other men’s match-up in the final session of the day under the London lights, USA’s fourth-seeded Jake Gibb/Sean Rosenthal powered by South Africa’s 21st-seeded Freedom Chiya/Grant Goldschmidt, 21-10, 21-11 in 33 minutes.
Round robin pool play continues with three sessions on Sunday starting at 09:00 and continuing to the final match of the day starting at 23:00 with the other 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams playing their first matches of these Olympic Games.
Canada’s Binstock/Reader pull pool play win
On the men’s side in a session two spotlight match, the host-country fans were disappointed by Canada’s 19th-seeded Josh Binstock/Martin Reader two-set 21-19, 21-13 victory over Great Britain’s sixth-seeded John Garcia-Thompson/Steve Grotowski, although Canada did have a few thousdand fans in the packed stadium.
In one of the exciting men’s matches held in session two between two teams who had never met before, Canada’s Binstock had one ace, 11 kills and 12 digs while Reader contributed 5 aces, 14 kills, one block and nine digs. For Great Britain, Garcia-Thompson had two aces, nine kills and seven digs while Grotowski had 12 kills, one block and three digs.
The other men’s match in the second session saw Switzerland’s 15th-seeded Sebastian Chevallier/Sascha Heyer, 18-21, 21-16 and 15-12 in 60-minutes, the longest match of the day.
Binstock said after his team’s first Olympic victory, “It’s hard because they are great people and we like them as friends. It can help to creative motivation when you don’t like your opponents, but that was not the case. They are stand-up class acts and we didn’t like disappointing their home-country fans, but we really appreciated all the supports from all the Canadians who were in the crowd.” More
Latvia’s Samoilovs/Sorokins start with win over Poland’s Fijalek/Prudel
In the first men’s match of the London 2012 Olympic Games beach volleyball competition on Saturday morning, Lativia’s 16th-seeded Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Ruslans Sorokins came from behind to upset Poland’s ninth-seeded Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel, 12-21, 21-15 and 15-12 in 48 minutes.
For the winning Latvians, Samoilovs had 15 kills, two blocks and 11 digs while Sorokins was credited with two aces, 20 kills, three blocks and four digs. Statistically, Poland’s Fijalek was credited with 23 kills and 13 digs while Prudel recorded 10 kills, four blocks and four digs.
Sorokins commented on his team’s comback saying, “When we came out into the stadium and saw this incredible crow, we got too emotional. We like it a lot, but I know from experience I need to hold my emotions down. Otherwise I will go crazy. We learned that we need to calm down a bit. We need to be balanced, concentrated and in control.” More
Cunha aiming to help Ricardo continue run of medals in London
Pedro Cunha is hopeful that he can help continue Ricardo Santos’ remarkable run of medal success at the Olympic Games, following an opening win at London 2012.
In 2000 Ricardo left Sydney with a silver medal after he and Ze Marco lost to Eric Fonoimoana and Dain Blanton in the gold medal match. Four years later he teamed up with Emanuel Rego to win gold at Athens 2004 and then four years further on they won bronze at Beijing 2008.
Since pairing up at the end of 2011 Cunha and Ricardo have enjoyed wins at four FIVB SWATCH World Tour events and the aim now is to add another from Horse Guard’s Parade. More
Men’s favourites out to make early mark in London
The top two men’s teams will be determined to begin their Olympic campaigns in good form when they play their first matches of the London 2012 Olympic Games on day two of the beach volleyball competition on Sunday.
Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser of the USA begin their defence of the gold medal that they won at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games when they take on Japanese veterans Kentaro Asahi and Katsuhiro Shiratori in the penultimate match of the day at Horse Guard's Parade.
Rogers and Dalhausser will hope to avoid a repeat of their opening match at Beijing 2008 when they slipped to a surprise loss to Latvians Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Martins Plavins before they recovered to win gold by defeating Brazil’s Marcio Araujo and Fabio Luiz in the gold medal match. More
The sold-out beach volleyball competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games is being held through Aug. 9 in a purpose-built 15,000-set stadium on the grounds of the iconic Horse Guards Parade in central London. For current information, visit www.fivb.org.
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