The Russian men's beach volleyball team are packing their bags for London after booking their place at the Olympics with a confident win over Poland in the qualification tournament in Moscow.
It was the hosts last chance of qualification for the summer Games. And the Russians kept their nerve, seeing off Poland in the final in two rather one-sided games.
In the first, Yury Bogatov and Dmitry Barsouk beat Bartosz Losiak and Piotr Kantor in two straight sets and then Konstantin Semenov and his partner Sergey Prokopiev repeated the feat against Poland’s second duo, Michal Kadziola and Jakub Szalankiewicz.
The Poles had equalled Russia’s tournament run of 4 wins and a loss going into the match, but home comforts seem to have played their part in the resounding victory.
The players, however, weren’t without their worries prior to the final.
"I had about three hours sleep the previous night, because after topping our group we knew we would play in the final,” Sergey Prokopiev told RT. “Only the final was scheduled for 7:30pm, so we had to hold our emotions and keep focused all day. But we’re experienced players and know how to deal with this kind of stress.”
And with eyes now firmly on London, the guys’ mood was understandably buoyant.
“We’re not planning on going to the Olympics to simply participate in it,” Konstantin Semenov said. “This year has been tough, so we’ll want to push ourselves to the max and see how high we can get. If we get a medal, that would be amazing, but we’re playing better and better together, so hopefully we can peak at the Olympics and make all our fans happy.”
In the men’s other final, Austria outmuscled Mexico 2-0 to clinch the other Olympic ticket up for grabs.
Despite dropping a set against the Mexicans, team Austria never looked like they would surrender their undefeated run in the Tournament.
“I think our key to success was that we had a really great team spirit, although it’s just one ticket for two teams, which of course can make some problems, but yeah, we did a really good job and we deserved it,” Austria’s Alexander Horst stressed.
And with that, the final two spots for the Beach Volleyball competition at the Olympics have been filled.
So, the Russian men’s beach volleyball team will be joining the women’s team on the plane to London this summer.
The two teams will now be heading to a purpose built 15,000 seat stadium where from July 28 they too will get the chance to battle it out for Olympic glory.
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