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South African men claim Olympic Games berth

South Africa's Grant Goldschmidt and Freedom Chiya celebrate after winning the golden set and a place at the London 2012 Olympic Games on Sunday
Flic en Flac, Mauritius, April 16, 2012 – South Africa have become the first country to seal their place at the London 2012 Olympic Games through the CAVB Beach Volleyball Continental Cup after their men’s team clinched a ground-breaking victory over Angola in the final in Flic en Flac Beach, Mauritius on Sunday.

The newly-crowned African champions are the inaugural team to qualify through the new Olympic qualification system, which saw 39 countries participate across each continental phase.

The first match of the final saw South Africa’s Chiya/Goldschmidt take on Angola’s Abreu/Silva with the former coming out strong, reaching the first technical time out at 14-7. The Angolan duo was then affected by an injury to Abreu as South Africa took the first set 21-12.

Chiya gave the crowd a scare at the start of the second after going down with a groin injury. However, the tandem quickly got back into the game following a medical timeout and picked up the win 21-11.

Angola’s Eden/Marcio Sequiera bounced back for their county in the second match, holding off South Africa’s Fredericks/Williams 21-15 to take the first set.

The second set was a tight affair with both sets of players struggling in the heat, with Angola taking an early medical timeout because of the sun. The match remained tied right up until the end but Angola came out on top taking the set 21-18 and tying up the scores 1-1.

Chiya/Goldschmidt then clashed with Eden/Marcio Sequiera with both countries looking to get ahead and gain an advantage. The opening set was once again a close battle, but the Angolan duo narrowly came out on top, sealing a 22-20 win before again edging the second 21-19 to give their country the lead for the first time.

However, it was a short-lived lead as Fredericks/Williams sealed a 21-15, 21-15 win over Abreu/Silva to take the match to a golden set.

Chiya/Goldschmidt stepped out for South Africa in the golden set, facing Eden/Marcio Sequiera, who they had lost to earlier on in the day. That defeat seemed to spur them on as they took an early 4-1 lead, increasing this to 7-3 at the first technical time out. The South African tandem maintained their momentum, taking the score to 11-4. The Angola’s staged a small comeback, but Chiya/Goldschmidt would not be stopped and eventually earned South Africa a historic berth to the London 2012 Olympic Games, sealing a 15-11 win, prompting celebration.

“It is a great moment for me and my team to be a gold medallist and to represent Africa at the Olympic Games,” Chiya said. “In the first game we played against them it was very hot and very difficult to play but in the golden set it was much easier and cooler. My team mate and I concentrated on every point.”

South Africa have competed at the Olympic Games beach volleyball tournament just once before, with Gershon Rorich and Colin Pocock finishing ninth in Athens 2004.

Angola’s chances for an Olympic berth are still alive as they will travel to Tortoli, Italy for the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Cup Olympic Qualification tournament which will take place from June 27 to July 1 World Cup.

Nigeria will also join them in Italy after picking up the bronze medal, beating Congo in four straight matches.


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