11.07.2021 - Vienna, Austria
With this week’s four-star event in Gstaad being the last big tournament before the Olympics, all eyes in the picturesque Swiss Alps village were understandably on the teams that are set to make the trip to Tokyo in the near future.
However, it was Dutchmen Stefan Boermans and Yorick de Groot who became the sensations of the event as the European team topped the podium of the men’s tournament in Switzerland despite ranking just 41st in the world.
Boermans & de Groot 🇳🇱 are your Gstaad CHAMPIONS! 🏆🔥— Beach Volleyball World (@BeachVBWorld) July 10, 2021
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The 26-year-old Boermans and the 21-year-old de Groot upset arguably the hottest team in the world right now, the one of Qataris Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan, now once, but twice, including in the gold medal match (23-21, 19-21, 15-10) to claim gold and take home the widely-know cowbells offered to podium finishes in Gstaad. They just became partners in March.
“We had played them in pool play and we knew how good they are,” De Groot said. “We had to bring our top game to win. We kept our calm near the end and kept playing our game and focusing on our side of the net. I believe it was an amazing match to watch and I still can’t believe we won it, it feels unreal.”
Europe took yet another medal in the men’s tournament with reigning world champions Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Viacheslav Krasilnikov, who prevailed in the all-Russian bronze medal match, defeating compatriots Nikita Liamin and Taras Myskiv in straight sets (21-16, 21-12).
The women’s event saw Brazilian teams occupy the top two spots in the podium after Agatha Bednarczuk and Duda Lisboa dominated compatriots Ana Patricia Ramos and Rebecca Cavalcanti to a 2-0 (23-21, 21-18) victory.
“This is so exciting,” said Duda. “It’s our first gold here in Gstaad, a city that’s very beautiful and has one of the best atmospheres for us to play. It was a very emotional tournament and for us to win gold in the last tournament before Tokyo, it’s very special and means a lot.”
Europe managed to advance one team to the semifinals, but 2019 EuroBeachVolley champions Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka of Latvia ended up losing to reigning world champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes of Canada in three sets (13-21, 21-13, 15-17) to finish fourth.
“We loved playing in front of the fans and feeling their energy,” Graudina said. “We didn’t start the match well but from the second set on we managed to actually follow our coach’s game plan and cut down our mistakes.”
There will still be some World Tour events going on before the start of the Olympics on July 24 and next week will feature three of them, including two one-stars in Europe – a double-gender in Leuven, Belgium, and a men-only in Sofia, Bulgaria. A two-star tournament in Rubavu, Rwanda, will also take men and women to Africa for the first time in the season.