London, Great Britain, July 30, 2012 – Aleksandrs Samoilovs lived up to his knickname of the Lion King to secure his and Ruslans Sorokins’ place in the knockout stages of the beach volleyball tournament at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The pair wasted no time in defeating South African pair Grant Goldschmidt and Freedom Chiya 21-13, 21-10 and Samoilovs was at his best at the net to continually thwart the African qualifiers’ attempts to keep in touch on the scoreboard.
“We made fewer mistakes and played well today,” Samoilovs said. “There’s just one more match in the pool to get things right.
“Where can we improve? In lots of areas; it’s only if you’re winning 21-0 that you’re playing a perfect match, but we didn’t win 21-0 so we can improve things for sure.”
In the other match in their pool Poland’s Mariusz Prudel and Grzegorz Fijalek recovered from their opening match loss to the Latvians to beat the USA’s Sean Rosenthal and Jacob Gibb 21-17, 21-18.
“In the first match we were a little bit nervous and not able to concentrate well,” Prudel said. “Today we concentrated more and that was the key.”
Germany’s third-seeded Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann started slowly and lost the first set to Penggen Wu and Linyin Xu. Eventually though they fought back and wore down China’s 10th-seeded pair and won 13-21, 21-19 and 15-8 in a 52-minute match.
The result means Brink and Reckermann have won both their matches in pool play, while Wu and Xu have lost both.
"There was not much to celebrate in the first set for us, but we relied on the crowd after that," Reckermann said. "Everybody in London is talking about beach volleyball and the whole world is watching us and the venue looks sold out. So we just wanted to give a bit of show to the audience."
Brazil’s seventh-seeded Pedro Cunha and Ricardo Santos had to overcome a raucous crowd when they took on local favourites John Garcia-Thompson and Steve Grotowski, but eventually won 21-17, 21-12 in 40 minutes.
“No matter whom they support – us or the opponents – Ricardo loves this,” Cunha said. “He helps me out all the time. He supports me with great blocking and setting. We have a good chemistry.
“I hope we keep playing like this. After pool play, it’s going to be the best teams and we will have to play our best play.”
Match of the Games
Sasha Heyer and Sebastian Chevallier were pushed hard by Russia’s Konstantin Semenov and Serguei Prokopiev. The Swiss won the first set after the two teams had gone point for point, the Russians hit back to claim the second before Heyer and Chevallier edged the third to win 28-26, 18-21, 15-13 for their second victory of the competition.
“We came back once and then again at 13-11,” Heyer said. “And then we served two aces, which was incredible. It was the game of the Games.”
Norway’s Tarjei Spinnangr and Martin Skarlund earned their first win of the Olympics with victory over Martin Reader and Josh Binstock.
In London the teams have been split equally into six pools of and the teams play each other once in their group. The top two advance to the single-elimination knockout phase that begins on August 3 along with the two best third-placed teams. The remaining four third-place teams will then compete in playoff matches to determine which pairs will fill the final two places in the 16-team elimination bracket’s first round.
Sixteen teams qualified for the Games through the Olympic Ranking which is based primarily on world tour standings. Five more joined as winners of the AVC, CAVB, CEV, CSV and NORCECA Continental Cup Finals and two from the World Cup Olympic Qualification Tournament. Great Britain was granted a berth as hosts.
Pool play continues Tuesday starting at 9 a.m. and continues to the final match of the day which starts at 11 p.m.
The sold-out beach volleyball competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games is being held through Aug. 9 in a purpose-built 15,000-seat stadium on the grounds of Horse Guards Parade in central London. For current information, visit www.fivb.org.
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