The first Grand Slam in Shanghai will be well remembered by Chinese beach volleyball fans, as their favourites Chen Xue and Zhang Xi made their wish come true and won gold – continuing their medal-winning streak and finishing on the podium three times in three events so far.
Maria Elisa Antonelli and Talita Antunes can match this track record: after a first and a second place in previous events, they were able to add another silver medal this week.
In the final, the Chinese held the Brazilians firmly in check and won 21-18, 21-17 in convincing fashion. Even a minor injury of Chen Xue’s right foot was not enough to stop them. After the last match, Xue expressed her joy, but also saw room for improvement: „Shanghai is a lucky place for us. We won the title six years ago and now we have it again today. We aren’t in the best condition physically, but our mental strength pulled us through.”
To reach the final, Xue and Zhang Xi had to eliminate two of our other FIVB Heroes. Germans Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig found no antidote to the strength of the Chinese in an earlier encounter, while in the semifinal the Brazilian beach stars Larissa and Juliana lost out to the eventual winners. But Larissa and Juliana stayed focused and took home the bronze medal against Sanne Keizer and Marleen Van Iersel from the Netherlands 29-27, 21-13.
The ambitious duo wants to improve its results throughout the next week, and Juliana takes this match as the start for some changes: „It has given us the chance to learn a lot about this year and given us the chance to get better. It is a long season and we hope we can start to play better and improve our confidence from now on.”
So once again all medals go to teams who are part of our FIVB Heroes!
Stay tuned for all the info on the next tour stop in Beijing…