Beach Volleyball: Germany thrash Brazil to take gold

Thu Aug 18, 2016 1:27am EDT
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By Stephen Eisenhammer and Brad Haynes

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - German beach volleyball duo Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst took gold in the early hours of Thursday, beating Brazil in gusty conditions to win their country's first female Olympic medal in the sport and silence the partisan Copacabana crowd.

The Germans used the wind and their height advantage, with Walkenhorst's dominance at the net proving too much for Brazil's Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas as they won 21-18 21-14 in the final that ended past midnight.

They were the second Brazilian team to lose on a night of heartbreak for the home crowd after America's Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross beat Larissa Franca and Talita Antunes to take bronze.

Bednarczuk and Seixas, world champions and playing on home sand, started out as favorites but the Germans quickly showed they would not be cowered by the odds or the hostile crowd.

"We worked on how to be self-confident even with this crowd," Ludwig said after the match. "The Brazilians were really loud, even I had goosebumps, it was really special."

The wind picked up just before the final, swirling around the temporary 12,000-seat arena and making playing conditions difficult. But the Germans dealt much better with the wind, serving three aces while the Brazilians faulted five times.

"There was a storm coming and I thought let's take this storm and make our own storm," Ludwig said.

The Brazilians were crestfallen not to win the country's first female beach volleyball gold since 1996, but admitted the Germans had been the better team.   Continued...

Aug 17, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil;  Laura Ludwig (GER) and Kira Walkenhorst (GER) celebrate winning the gold medal during the women's gold medal match in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Beach Volleyball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports