Hong Kong, November 11, 2007 - Jia Tian and Jie Wang ended the 2007 FIVB Beach Volleyball campaign like the Chinese pair started their international season last May in Shanghai with a gold medal after the world’s No. 2-ranked team captured the US$30,000 Crocodile Hong Kong Beach Festival 2007 here Sunday at Victoria Park.
The top-seeded Tian and Wang scored a 21-18 and 21-16 win in 39 minutes over second-seeded Chinese rivals Chen Xue and Xi Zhang in the Crocodile Hong Kong Beach Festival 2007 gold medal match to share the $5,000 first-place prize while netting their fourth international Beach Volleyball title.
The victory was Tian and Wang’s 13th FIVB win in 17 matches against their younger Chinese rivals. The previous 16 matches between the two teams were on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour where Xue and Zhang had won two of the previous three gold medal contests with Tian and Wang during the 2006 season.
While Tian and Wang were undefeated in the competition with five wins, including a 21-18 and 21-12 semi-final victory earlier Sunday over 10th-seeded Jarunee Sannok and Usa Tenpaksee of Thailand in 35 minutes, Xue and Zhang had to win three elimination matches to reach the Crocodile Hong Kong Beach Festival 2007 “final four” where the pair split $4,000 for their silver medal finish.
After splitting a pair of matches Friday, including a 21-17 and 21-17 setback to Sannok and Tenpaksee, Xue and Zhang posted contender’s bracket wins Saturday over teams from Kazakhstan, China and the Philippines. In an All-Chinese semi-final Sunday morning, Xue and Zhang posted a 21-14 and 21-7 victory in 32 minutes over 14th-seeded Zhongji Jiang and Jieqiong Jin.
Tied for the second spot on the qualifying list for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Tian and Wang ended their international Beach Volleyball season with a 76-20 match mark for 16 events with $305.600 in earnings. In addition to two gold medals, Tian and Wang competed in eight FIVB finals this season with a silver medal at the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships this past July in Gstaad, Switzerland.
Fourth on the Beijing Olympic qualifying list, Xue and Zhang posted a 68-28 mark for 16 events with $222,800 in earnings in 2007. With a combined age of 40, Xue (18) and Zhang (22) competed in nine FIVB “final fours” this season with four silver and two bronze medal finishes. During their first international season together last year, Xue and Zhang won SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medals in Shanghai and Thailand before ending the campaign with a title at the 2006 Asian Games in Qatar.
In the third-place match, Sannok and Tenpaksee scored a 21-23, 21-15 and 15-13 victory over Jiang and Jin in one of the longest matches (52 minutes) in the sixth and final women’s FIVB Challenger/Satellite event on the 2007 calendar. The bronze medal win netted the Thai pair $3,100 while Jiang and Jin split $2,500.