London, Great Britain, August 9, 2012 – Germany’s Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann wasted three match points, but won gold with the fourth as they beat Brazil’s Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego 23-21, 16-21, 16-14 at the London 2012 Olympic Games on Thursday. It means they become the first European side to win an Olympic beach volleyball gold medal.
Earlier Latvia’s Janis Smedins and Martins Plavins beat The Netherland’s Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil in the bronze medal match for Latvia’s first medal of London 2012.
“The first set was pretty close, from the beginning to the end,” Reckermann said. “In the second the Brazilians played great and we had trouble siding out. In the third we went point by point and then at 14-11 we lost three match points and we said ‘stop, not this time’. It is unbelievable, there was so much pressure.”
The match was a clash of the 2009 FIVB world champions, Brink and Reckermann and the 2011 world champions, Emanuel and Alison. Emanuel was also looking to add a second Olympic gold medal to the one he won at Athens 2004 with Ricardo Santos.
Alison scored the first point with a trademark block at the net. The sides then went back and forth on the scoresheet, until the Brazilians edged ahead. They let two set points slip though and the Germans took advantage by winning the set with the first chance they had.
Emanuel and Alison hit back from the start of the second set and quickly began to build a lead. Emanuel found his form at the back of the court, while Alison was his usual powerful presence at the net. The Germans saved one match point, but a Brink service error allowed the Brazilians to draw level.
The teams continued to push each other hard from the start of the third set. Germany grabbed the initiative and built up a four-point lead. Emanuel and Alison saved three match points to draw level at 14-14, but the Germans immediately gained another and when Emanuel’s shot dropped wide, it gave Brink and Reckermann the win and the gold medal.
“It is the biggest gold and biggest achievement in the sport,” Reckermann added. It’s amazing, fantastic.”
The silver means that Emanuel now has a complete set of Olympics medals after gold and bronze with Ricardo in Athens and Beijing. At 26 Alison has one gold and two silver medals from the past three major tournaments.
“This has been the most beautiful and successful Olympic Games for beach volleyball as all the best teams were here,” Emanuel said. “We wanted to win the final, but the gold medal match was a great, great exhibition. We wanted to win, but sometimes you have to step back and say it was a great game.”
Smedins and Plavins to fore for Latvia’s first medal of London 2012
In the bronze medal match Plavins and Smedins came from a set down to beat Schuil and Nummerdor 19-21, 21-19, 15-11. One of the first people to congratulate the pair was Latvian President Andris Berzins who phoned them as they were leaving court at Horse Guard’s Parade.
“He said we are young and that we have a big future,” Smedins said. “He wished us well for the future and said he’s very happy for us.
“It is just amazing. We saw a Latvian (Ineta Radevica) finish fourth in the long jump last night and she missed bronze by a few centimetres. We knew we had one more chance to win a medal for Latvia. We don’t get too many medals for Latvia, so there was a lot of pressure.”
From the start neither team was prepared to give any ground in the first set; both teams pushed each other hard throughout, but it was the Dutch pair were the first to reach set point. They didn’t waste it and Schuil hammered in a shot that tied up the first set.
Nummerdor and Schuil kept up their momentum into the second set and quickly took control of proceedings. Latvia fought back though and won the set when Smedins blocked a Schuil shot at the net.
In the third set after both sides had stayed equal through the early part, the Latvians eventually took control of the set and after Schuil had saved one match point, a weak serve into the net by Nummerdor gave the Latvians the win and the bronze medal.
In London the teams were divided equally into six pools of and the teams played each other once in their group. The top two advanced to the single-elimination knockout phase that began on August 3 along with the two best third-placed teams. The remaining four third-place teams competed in playoff matches to determine which pairs filled 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.
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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