2017-10-16 10:06:00 CET

Kings and Queens of Qinzhou

It’s gold for Russia and Australia in China

Rising Russian stars Igor Velichko and Maxim Sivolap and Aussie girls Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy were both cheering in China after scooping gold at the Qinzhou Open over the weekend.

The victory was extra special for young Russians Velichko, 22, and 21-year-old Sivolap as they secured their first ever medal and podium finish in what was only their eighth international tournament together on the FIVB World Tour.

What’s more the Europeans defeated a number of experienced teams on their way to gold. They saw off Qataris Jefferson Santos Pereira and Cherif Younousse in the second round and beat talented Cubans pair Nivaldo Diaz and Sergio Gonzalez in the semifinal. In the gold medal match, Igor and Maxim stormed back from losing the first set to 2016 Olympians Lombardo Ontiveros and Juan Virgen of Mexico to take the top place on the podium.

“We are really happy! We played on almost our maximum level and won the tournament and we can’t express our feelings now. It’s something marvellous,” Sivolap said. “The gold medal shows that we are going in the right direction and we have been working strongly. Our aim was to go for the gold medal and we got it and everybody is really happy.”

Cubans Nivaldo/Diaz claimed the bronze medal with a victory over Belgians Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle.

All three Austrian men’s teams, Seidl/Winter, Kunert/Dressler and Müllner/Schnetzer finished in 17th.

In the women’s bracket, Clancy and Artacho won their first gold medal in only their second tournament together. The Australian pair, who both competed at the 2016 Olympics with different partners, were in top form in China. The duo beat Polish team Katarzyna Kociolek and Kinga Kolosinska 21-11, 21-12 in the final to win gold.

GOLD!! 😁 Thanks Fuffy for being a digging machine! & thank you all for the love! #qinzhou3star #vamos

675 Likes, 14 Comments - Taliqua Clancy (@taliqua) on Instagram: "GOLD!! 😁 Thanks Fuffy for being a digging machine! & thank you all for the love! #qinzhou3star..."

“(The key is) Teamwork and trust in each other,” Artacho said. “We stayed really strong together, at every point, whether we were up or down.”

“Teamwork, especially in these tricky conditions,” Clancy echoed. “It’s so windy and that made it even more difficult. We were adapting to that the whole tournament and it paid off.”

Americans Summer Ross and Brooke Sweat took the bronze after beating China’s home favorites Fan Wang and Xinyi Xia. The pair were one of four teams from the USA competing in the tournament, with Nicole Branagh and Lauren Fendrick posting a fifth place, Emily Day and Brittany Hochevar a ninth place and Kelly Claes and April Ross finishing in 17th. Austria’s Lena Plesiutschnig and Kathi Schützenhöfer claimed ninth spot.

The next stop on the FIVB World Tour is the Netherlands when Aalsmeer stages a one-star event between October 25-29.

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