Despite rain, crowd fills arena mounted at same spot in Copacabana that will host Olympic Games stadium
The only thing that was undecided by early afternoon on Sunday (6 September) on Copacabana beach was the weather. Sun and rain battled it out over the temporary arena installed in front of Avenida Princesa Isabel – the same spot that will host the Olympic beach volleyball venue next year – for the Rio Open, the latest stop on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World League.
“The crowd never stopped, they didn’t just watch the games, the clapped, danced and sang,” said Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs, who won the men’s title with Janis Smedins. “It’s an exchange of energy between them and us. But I cannot say I’m surprised, because Copacabana is a legendary place, this atmosphere is famous all over the world.”
Larissa added: “The crowd at Copacabana knows its beach volleyball, they understand what happens on the court and they demand our very best.”
The six-day event was organised by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), whose beach volleyball director Angelo Squeo was happy with the outcome. “We had a great tournament, with a lot of positive integration with the Brazilian Volleyball Federation and the Rio 2016 organising committee in order to test various aspects of our preparation for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. I am very proud that we will host the competition in a place like Copcabana.”
The event also saw the introduction of a new ‘Challenge’ system that will be used during the Olympic Games. If the players feel a point has been wrongly awarded/denied, they can ask the referee to replay the point on the big screen. Already used in volleyball, each pair can challenge two times per set. “We will have a more transparent and fairer tournament,” said Squeo.
Rio 2016 volleyball competition manager Giovane Gávio was also pleased with the event, highlighting the work of the volunteers. “The tournament was adapted to replicate the Olympic format, with 24 teams in each gender,” he said. “Also fundamental was the participation of about 250 volunteers, who received training in Olympic protocol.”
On the court, the battle for medals was intense. Larissa/Talita came out on top in an all-Brazilian women’s final, beating world champions Barbara Seixas and Agatha Bednarczuk 2-1. Brazil missed out on a podium sweep when Juliana Felisberta da Silva and Maria Antonelli lost the bronze medal match to Dutch duo Madelein Meppelink and Marleen Van Iersel 2-0.
In the men’s tournament, Samoilovs/Smedins beat German pair Markus Bockermann and Lars Fluggen for gold, while Brazilians Saymon Barbosa and Guto Carvalhaes overcame compatriots and world champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt, who have already qualifed for Rio 2016, in the bronze medal match.
For more information visit the FIVB site.