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Brink/Reckermann are Europe's "Kings of the Beach"

 
Julius Brink (left) and Jonas Reckermann added to their impressive showcase another gold medal
 
Kristiansand, Norway, August 14, 2011 - Norway seems to be a very special place for Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann. After these guys claimed the World Championships 2 years ago in Stavanger, this afternoon they added to their impressive collection also a European gold, something they had been hunting for a few years after they had already topped the final standings of this competition in the past but with the contribution of different partners.

Brink and Reckermann edged their compatriots Kay Matysik and Jonathan Erdmann in straight sets (25-23, 21-19) but “it was really a tough game” said Reckermann. “Before traveling to Norway we had openly declared that our goal was to win this European Championship. This statement was generating some pressure because we were somehow expected to win here but we finally made it. We are totally pleased with this result” he added. This is the third European crown for Reckermann who had previously won the title in 2002 and 2004 partnering Markus Dieckmann, while Julius Brink adds a second gold medal to his showcase after a first place seized in 2006 together with Dieckmann’s brother, Christoph. The scenario this afternoon was certainly not the one the organizers had hoped for here in Kristiansand: although the final was attended by quite a good crowd, some heavy rain affected the general atmosphere and also the playing conditions. Anyway, small German flags had been given to all spectators, so finally it looked like this final match was taking place in Berlin rather than in Kristiansand. At 23 years of age, Jonathan Erdmann was the youngest player on court and although this was his first European Championship with the seniors, he stood up pretty well with the pressure, always supported and well motivated by his older and more experienced friend Kay Matysik. Erdmann/Matysik dictated the tempo for most of the first set with Brink/Reckermann drawing level only at 14 all; after a very close run, Erdmann and Matysik could not finalize three set balls while the 2009 World champions sealed the set with their second opportunity to go for the 1:0 as wrong setting was whistled to Kay Matysik. Brink/Reckermann played with great consistency in set 2, very solid in defense and with excellent offensive combinations; Matysik/Erdmann stayed tuned for most of the time, although the block of Erdmann was no longer as effective as it has been in the semifinal with Nummerdor and Schuil. After claiming a very narrow margin, Brink/Reckermann got two chances to pocket the game (20:18) and they only needed to wait for the second to be silvered to start their celebrations for a first, common European title.

After they had to step down from the throne clearly losing their semifinal game to Erdmann and Matysik, Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil did nevertheless confirm their special connection with the European Championship as they medaled for the fifth year in a row, thus completing their unique collection with a bronze medal to be added to three gold and one silver from Valencia 2007. Having traveled to Norway after a very disappointing season, the “Oranjes” started strongly their consolation final with Patrick Heuscher and Jefferson Bellaguarda of Switzerland. However, their opponents were not going to surrender that quickly and the score stayed really tight for most of the opening set. After continuous ties, Richard Schuil got a mini break (moving the score from 18:18 to 20:18) calling for two set balls. It was not going to end up that quickly, as the Dutchmen needed a total of six opportunities before they finished it off with the terrific score of 25-23. What the local organizers were afraid of finally turned into reality as the first drops of rain started falling down in Kristiansand, but it was not that frightening as most of the spectators just took out their raincoats and umbrellas not to miss the opportunity to follow the deciding act of this great competition. Anchored by excellent play of Brazilian-born Bellaguarda – who got Swiss citizenship after marrying there – Patrick and Jefferson totally dominated the scene in the second set clipping that section of the game with a comfortable margin (21-15) as their leadership was not in danger at all there. The tie-break was the well deserved end of a Norwegian campaign where both pairs had displayed their strongest play. This time it was 38-year old and former indoor star Richard Schuil who set the tempo of the game with excellent blocks, but also Reinder Nummerdor excelled with his exquisite actions in defense. With a 6:1 break, the Dutchmen sailed away to 8:4 and it looked like this was the deciding gap to ultimately seize the bronze medal. However, the fighting spirit of Heuscher and Bellaguarda re-opened once again the game, with Nummerdor and Schuil going through a scenario they had already experienced in the final rush of the opening set, eventually finalizing their fifth match ball at 18-16. It is rumored that Schuil will stop playing after the London Olympics next year and Nummerdor will be going back to indoor – probably in Italy – but these guys are definitely to be placed among the best in history, waiting for the up-and-coming Dutch pairs – that already performed extremely well here in Kristiansand – to learn for their legacy and contribute a bright future for Beach Volleyball in the Netherlands.



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