Life’s a beach at the YOG
With all eyes on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Hamburg (Germany) happening right now, olympic.org looks back at some of the most memorable moments from the discipline’s two appearances at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG).
Brazilian comeback stuns Canadian twins
It looked like Ana Patricia Silva and Eduarda Lisboa would have to settle for silver when they slipped four points behind Canadian twins Megan and Nicole McNamara in the deciding set of the gold medal match of the YOG Nanjing 2014. But the Brazilian duo bounced back to enjoy an impressive 5-1 run, tying the set at 9-9 before going on to clinch gold with a 16-14 victory.
Ana Patricia and Eduarda – better known as Duda – had lost the first set of the final 21-17, but showed their class to win the second 21-13. With the Canadian twins controlling the action at the start of the deciding third set, the Brazilians had to dig deep to turn the match around.
“We struggled in the first set, and they beat us pretty easily,” admitted the then 16-year-old Duda. “We had a great comeback to win the second and third sets. This is an unbelievable feeling.”
Duda has since gone on to enjoy a prosperous partnership at senior level with Ágatha Bednarczuk, winning the 2018 World Tour Finals, and is sure to be among the medal contenders at the World Championships in Hamburg.
Russians down world champions en route to gold
Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Artem Yarzutkin certainly didn’t take the easy route to the top of the podium at the YOG Nanjing 2014. In the quarter-finals, the Russian pair were drawn against reigning FIVB under-19 world champions Arthur Mariano and George Wanderley of Brazil – and when the South Americans took the first set 21-15, the chances of them progressing to the final four looked slim.
But Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin dominated the second set, winning 21-9, and then controlled the early exchanges in the third and deciding set to build an 11-7 lead. While Arthur and George rallied to tie the match at 11-11 and 12-12, Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin closed out the match by scoring the final three points to win the set 15-12 and advance to the medal rounds.
A 2-0 (21-11, 21-10) victory in the semi-finals over Miro Maattanen and Santeri Siren of Finland then set up a tantalising gold medal match against Peter Hernandez and Tigrito Gomez of Venezuela – who had beaten the Russians in the quarter-finals of the FIVB U19 Beach Volleyball World Championships less than a month earlier.
Buoyed by the towering blocks of the 205cm Stoyanovskiy and the skilled defence and attack of Yarzutkin, the duo were able to avenge that defeat and claim YOG gold with a 2-0 (21-12, 21-13) victory in just 30 minutes, securing the first-ever gold medal by a Russian men’s team in an FIVB-sanctioned event for players under the age of 23.
“This is unbelievable,” said Stoyanovskiy after the match. “It is such a great feeling.”
Stoyanovskiy now partners 2017 World Championship bronze medallist Viacheslav Krasilnikov at senior level.
Voronina and Bocharova underline their class
Having already won gold at the Nanjing 2018 FIVB U19 Beach Volleyball World Championships and the CEV U20 European Championships – in addition to making their debuts on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour – there were lofty expectations on Russia’s Maria Voronina and Mariia Bocharova at the YOG Buenos Aires 2018.
But they were more than able to live up to their billing as pre-YOG favourites by winning their three group matches without losing a single set, eventually conceding only one – in the round of 16 against Dutch pair Emi Van Driel and Raisa Schoon – as they went on to beat Italy’s Nicol Bertozzi and Claudia Scampoli (21-19, 21-19) in the gold medal match.
"We’re happy to win the gold medal here," said Voronina. "But we really liked the Argentinian fans at the arena. They supported us even though we are from another distant country. They really understand our sport and cheered all the athletes here, like true sportspeople do."
Swedish pair dance their way to gold
After losing their opening match of the YOG Buenos Aires 2018 to German duo Filip John and Lukas Pfretzschner, Sweden’s David Ahman and Jonatan Hellvig stormed their way to the top of the podium, becoming firm favourites of the Argentine crowds thanks to their enthusiastic celebrations – including a memorable jig to Jennifer Lopez’s Let’s Get Loud during the gold medal match.
“When I get in the mood I like to let loose a bit,” revealed Ahman, who showcased his dance moves following a string of impressive blocks and aces. “Our sport is still a show in the end. The fans pumped us up a lot, and I love to give something back.”
That attitude certainly appeared to work, as the Swedes concluded their stunning YOG campaign with a 22-20, 21-15 final victory over Matthew Immers and Yorick de Groot of the Netherlands – much to the delight of the local fans.
“Apart from this gold medal, the thing we’ve loved in Buenos Aires is the crowd,” revealed Hellvig. “It seems they liked us. It feels a bit weird to be shouted at by so many people in the stands who want us to wave to them and take selfies. We’re not really used to that.”