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2018-07-08 20:54:00 CEST

Latvians and Australians on top in Espinho

Samoilovs/Smedins and Clancy/Artacho will travel to Gstaad with some golden hardware around their necks

Smedins and Samoilovs are back in the top of the podium after nearly two years (Photocredit: FIVB)Smedins and Samoilovs are back in the top of the podium after nearly two years (Photocredit: FIVB)

Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins and Australians Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho claimed the last World Tour gold medals in play before the Swatch Major Gstaad starts, on Tuesday, as the two teams won the four-star tournament in Espinho, Portugal, this weekend.

It was the tenth gold medal won by the Latvians in 65 World Tour events together and the first in 2018 (they also have five silvers and six bronzes). In the gold medal match, they took down Brazilians Ricardo Santos and Guto Carvalhaes in a never-ending three-set battle  (21-13, 19-21, 22-20) to return to the top of the podium for the first time since they won the Klagenfurt Major almost two years ago.

 “I’m very glad we won”, Smedins said about their victory. “We didn’t win a gold medal for a long time and we were looking forward for it happening again. It was a battle, a very tough match and I’m happy we made it.”

Champions of the #EspinhoOpen! ๐Ÿ† #SAMSME ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ป earns win in a super thrilling final, 2-1 (21-13, 19-21 & 22-20), vs Ricardo/Guto ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท.

563 Likes, 12 Comments - Samoilovs Smedins (@samoilovssmedins) on Instagram: "Champions of the #EspinhoOpen! ๐Ÿ† #SAMSME ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ป earns win in a super thrilling final, 2-1 (21-13, 19-21..."

The Brazilians, who formed their partnership less than two months ago, were competing in just their second tournament as a team and won their first medal after a total of nine matches played, starting from country-quota, in Espinho during their week. Their schedule isn't due to get any lighter as they are entered to play in the Gstaad country-quota on Monday.

Germans Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler also stepped onto the podium for the first time together as they finished third in Espinho after a 2-1 (17-21, 21-12, 15-11) victory over Brazilians Evandro Goncalves and Vitor Felipe in the bronze medal match.

In the women’s event, Aussies Clancy and Artacho continued their impressive season by winning their fourth gold medal in 2018 with a straight-set (23-21, 21-17) triumph over Brazilians Maria Elisa Antonelli and Carol Solberg in the final.

“I’m very proud of our team,” Artacho said after the final. “We prepared really hard for this moment and it’s great winning here. We’re still in an early stage of our partnership and the achievements we already had make us think how far we can go.”

GOLD! ๐Ÿฅ‡๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ™ˆ An unforgettable feeling! ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’š

2,419 Likes, 61 Comments - Mariafe Artacho del Solar (@mariafe_beach1) on Instagram: "GOLD! ๐Ÿฅ‡๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ™ˆ An unforgettable feeling! ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’š"

Americans Summer Ross and Sara Hughes, who joined forces in March, collected their first World Tour medal as a team after a come-from-behind 2-1 (17-21, 21-13, 15-11) over Poland’s Kinga Kolosinska and Katarzyna Kociolek in the bronze medal match.

Russians and Chinese get all the medals in Anapa

The city of Anapa, in Russia, hosted a one-star event this weekend and teams from the home country and from China collected all medals in play as both nations dominated the women’s and men’s tournaments respectively.

Among the women, Russian up-and-comers Svetlana Kholomina and Nadezda Makroguzova topped the podium after a straight-set (21-13, 21-15) victory over Daria Mastikova and Anastasia Petrunina. London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympians Ekaterina Birlova and Evgeniya Ukolva claimed bronze with a 2-0 (21-19, 21-17) triumph over fellow Russians Yulia Abalakina and Ksenia Dabizha.

Kholomina and Makroguzova in the top of the podium in Anapa (Photocredit: FIVB)Kholomina and Makroguzova in the top of the podium in Anapa (Photocredit: FIVB)

In the male event, Likejiang Ha and Jiaxin Wu came out on top in the all-Chinese final after a three-set (21-9, 19-21, 15-9) win over Zhuoxin Li and Chaowei Zhou. Peng Gao and Yang Li confirmed the Chinese sweep as they posted a 2-1 (21-16, 17-21, 15-12) victory over Russia’s Ivan Golovin and Taras Myskiv.

American and Ukrainian golds in Poreฤ

The Crotian coast of Poreฤ was another location for World Tour one-star tournaments this week and teams from the USA and Ukraine dominated the event.

The women’s competition was won by American college players Emily Sonny and Torrey Van Winden, who are coached by legendary former player Todd Rogers and were playing in their first World Tour event.

The duo dominated the Ukrainian twins Iryna and Inna Makhno to a straight-set (21-17, 21-17) triumph in the gold medal match. Turkey’s Merve Nezir and Aleyna Vence finished third after a 2-1 (22-20, 21-23, 15-13) victory over Greece’s Dimitra Manavi and Konstantina Tsopoulou.

USAV Beach on Twitter

GOLD!! ๐Ÿฅ‡Emily Sonny and Torrey Van Winden win the gold at FIVB 1โญ๏ธ in Porec, Croatia, defeating Ukraine's Inna Makhno and Iryna Makhno, 21-17, 21-17. #BeachWorldTour

Among the men, Sergiy Popov and Vladyslav Iemelianchyk came out on top following a hard-fought three-set battle (21-19, 17-21, 21-19) with Austrians Simon Fruhbauer and Jorg Wutzl to win the first gold medal for Ukraine in the World Tour. Latvians Haralds Regza and Toms Smedins prevailed in two sets (21-14, 25-23) over fellow countrymen Mihails Samoilovs and Kristaps Smits to win bronze.

Next week, besides of the Gstaad Major, which will bring the best teams on the planet together in the Swiss Alps, the World Tour will also feature a one-star women-only tournament in Daegu, Korea.

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