Back-to-back Larnaka gold for Poland’s Bryl and Kujawiak
Two years ago they won another age group event staged in Larnaka, the U19 World Championships.
“I am so happy now. Winning our second gold is something else, unbelievable”, Kujawiak said.
Both teams showed some high standard beach volleyball and entertaining rallies in the packed 1,500-seat stadium on Finikoudes beach. The Polish team however played the most focused and determined.
“Before the match is said to Michal that we shouldn’t be stressed”, Kujawiak said. “That we should just play our game and be happy that we are in the final. So we just played.”
After winning the first set with a five-point difference, the Polish took an early lead in the second. The Russians changed block to shake things up, but could not close the gap. Leshukov and Margiev were able to ward off one match point but at 20-15 Kujawiak scored the winning point.
Since Larnaka two years ago they had not won a medal anymore, apart from silver at the CEV U20 last year. They finished 9th at the FIVB U21 last year and 5th at the U23 in June. Larnaka is their lucky place, Kujawiak said. “The people here they love us, they help us.”
Leshukov and Margiev won their first FIVB medal and were happy with it. Margiev: “Losing the final will not be a disappointment for us, as it will help us in future tournaments.”
They were the only team in the final four to come all the way from qualification. “The fact that we had to play more matches, meant that we were more tired compared to the other teams”, Leshukov said. “Also they are both one year older and that also played it’s part.”
France wins bronze medal
Maxime Thiercy and Romain Di Giantommaso defeated Norway’s Hendrik Mol and Christian Sorum 2-0 (22-20, 21-18) in the bronze medal match.
It is the first medal for them and for France in the 13-year history of the U21 World Championships and the second FIVB age group medal overall, since Darrieux/Platre also grabbed bronze at the U17 last week in Mexico.
“It’s very difficult to describe in words how we feel”, Thiercy said. “Maybe tomorrow morning when we wake up, we will realize what we have done. At the beginning of the tournament we did not know what to expect and going so far and winning the bronze medal, the first in our careers, is a huge success for us.”
Thiercy (19) entered the U21 in Umag last year with Alexis Gras, but did not get past qualification. For Di Giantommaso (20) this was his first FIVB event.
“The fact that we played without any pressure made it easier for us”, Di Giantommaso said, “as not a lot of people were expecting us to win third place. This big success gives us strength for the future as we are so young.”