Espinho, Portugal, June 18, 2006 - With the help of SWATCH most outstanding player Christoph Dieckmann, Julius Brink won his second-straight Volkswagen Open de Portugal gold medal here Sunday as the Germans upset reigning Olympic champions Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil in the Praia da Baia Beach Volleyball finale.
With their 21-13 and 21-17 win in 44 minutes, the fourth-seeded Brink and Dieckmann shared the US$32,000 first-place prize in only their second SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event together. The Germans also defeated the Brazilians last month in China for the Shanghai bronze medal.
“We played very well in the first set,” said the 30-year Dieckmann, who has now won all three of his SWATCH gold medals in matches against Emanuel and Ricardo. “They are a great team. They did not play their best match, especially when you consider that they beat us pretty good on Friday. Two medals in two SWATCH starts is a good start for us.”
Sunday’s gold medal win also marked the second-straight week that a European team defeated Emanuel and Ricardo for a SWATCH medal. Last Sunday in Italy, Switzerland’s Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel upset the Brazilians for the Roseto degli Abruzzi gold medal. Despite the two setbacks, Emanuel and Ricardo did share the $22,000 second-place prize.
“That win along with our victory this afternoon means a lot for the development of Beach Volleyball in Europe,” said Dieckmann. “Brazilians are still the teams to beat, especially since they did have two teams on the podium today. Swiss and German teams have been very competitive the past few years. And, the Italians also played well this week.”
In defending his Volkswagen Open de Portugal gold medal that he won on the Praia da Baia last July with Kjell Schneider, the 23-year old Brink was “enjoying” his second SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medal. “I have been here for five years now,” Brink noted, “and I continue to like the playing conditions. The deep sand is tough for a lot of the smaller players, but I feel comfortable with the conditions. The key today was Christoph. He made a lot of big plays.
After losing to Emanuel and Ricardo 21-17 and 21-16 Friday in the $200,000 SWATCH stop, Brink and Dieckmann defeated the three Brazilian teams seeded in front of them to capture Germany’s sixth SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medal since the start of the international circuit 20 years ago on Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro.
To gain a “final four” spot Saturday, Brink and Dieckmann had to eliminate 2005 SWATCH-FIVB World champions and second-seeded Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes 21-13 and 21-14 before advancing to the finals with a 21-18, 12-21 and 15-12 semi-final win over third-seeded Pedro Cunha and Franco Neto.
In the bronze medal match, Cunha and Franco denied Italy its first SWATCH-FIVB World Tour medal since 1991 by defeating seventh-seeded Ricardo Lione and Matteo Varnier 21-19 and 21-15 win in 44 minutes. With the win, the Brazilians shared $16,000 for third-place while Lione and Varnier split $12,000 for their second fourth-place in their last five SWATCH starts.
Following this week’s event, the world’s best Beach Volleyball players compete in the first two SWATCH grand slam stops in Switzerland (Gstaad, June 200-25) and Norway (Stavanger, June 27-July 2). Other 2006 grand slam stops will be in France (Paris, July 25-30) and Austria (Klagenfurt, August 1-6).