2016-03-14 11:50:00 CEST
Top teams eliminated and new winners crowned
In an astounding finish, USA team Walsh/Ross slayed the Rio Grand Slam and topped the podium taking home gold yesterday. The two made it through the tournament remaining unchallenged, winning every single one of their matches, outplaying Polish duo Kolosinska/Brzostek for the top spot.
The Rio Grand Slam was the biggest beach volleyball tournament to take place in 2016 so far offering a humungous sum of USD 800,000 in prize money of which the Americans get to share USD 57,000.
What an amazing comeback for three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh who suffered a shoulder injury toward the end of last year which dramatically and unfortunately cut her season short. Clearly this was no setback, as winning this Grand Slam put the pair back on track, earning them a total of 800 Olympic qualifying points toward the Summer Olympics taking place in Rio at the iconic Copacabana beach later this year (5-21 August).
This tournament was a place where dreams were dashed, many surprises occurred and nothing was taken for granted - current FIVB World Champions, Larissa/Talita from Brazil were disappointingly eliminated in Round 2 by Italian team Menegatti/Orsi Toth who then later got thrashed by German pair: Borger/Büthe. The German ladies continued their upward climb (which was the trend of the tournament) and went on to take 3rd place which is the highest finish the two have ever had at a Grand Slam.
At least male FIVB World Champions Alison/Bruno Schmidt made it to the quarterfinals but unfortunately that’s as far as they went. The Brazilians were knocked out by Dutch powerhouse team Brouwer/Meeuwsen who also, went on to secure 3rd place.
Newcomers to the GS wall of fame are Polish team: Losiak/Kantor came out of nowhere and won their first ever Grand Slam in a perfect tournament, not losing a single match. The winners also earned their 800 points toward their qualification in the Summer Olympics.
In a rare repeat of their Stavanger Major Final , Losiak/Kantor met Brazilians: Pedro Solberg/Evandro again in a final match and this time the Polish sought their revenge by defeating them in a flawless 2-0 (21-19, 23-21) victory.
Finishing 2nd is still very impressive for Pedro Solberg who is no stranger to the podium, winning the Stavanger Major in Norway last year and the Stare Jablonki Grand Slam Poland in August 2014. He is from a long line of competitive beach volleyball players so the sport runs in his blood.
The race is still on as teams rush to make up Olympic qualifying points and grab one of the last spots to participate. This is an opportunity few would be willing to sacrifice – the Olympics takes place once every four years and is a great honor to be selected to be one of the greats chosen to represent ones country.
There are only a few major tournaments left where players can make their mark and the upcoming Swatch Major Series is one of them taking place in Porec, Gstaad and Klagenfurt am Wörthersee/Kärnten from June this year and… it will be one for the record books.