Brilliant Ágatha Bednarczuk and Duda Lisboa Santos swapped last season’s silver medal for a gold one as the Brazilians lifted the Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals title in Hamburg.
The World’s number one team were too strong for Czech stars Barbora Hermannová and Markéta Sluková, winning 21-15, 21-19 to take the crown. In doing so the pair pocketed the biggest winners’ check in beach volleyball history, 150,000 US Dollars, while Duda, at just 20 years old, became the youngest ever World Tour Finals champion.
Having lost in last year’s final to German heroes Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst, the victory was even sweeter for 35-year-old Ágatha and rising star Duda.
“Coming to the venue this morning we thought it was another opportunity for us to win here after getting silver in 2017,” Ágatha said afterwards. “For me, the tournament was a lot harder than last year. We had to play high level teams all the time and every game was hard in its own way. I’m so proud of my team and my young partner.”
For Duda, the youngster hailed the triumph at the Rothenbaum as the best of her career.
“This is certainly my biggest victory,” said the Under-21 World Champion. “Except for the Olympics and the World Championships, this is biggest beach volleyball tournament in the planet. It’s a special victory for us and it’s the first time a win an event outside of Brazil. I kept thinking about it and after we lost the final in Moscow our coach said that my time would come and I kind of let it go. I’m glad it finally happened.”
Tournament comeback queens Bara and Maki could not repeat their semifinal feat but were delighted with their silver medal.
“I think it’s pretty awesome,” said Hermannová. “We played a really good tournament here and we enjoyed it on the Red Bull Beach Arena even though the Brazilians were really strong today and we didn’t find the right buttons against them.
“We are very proud of what we achieved and the silver medal will be hanging on the wall next to the medals from Ostrava and Vienna for sure. I think we will for sure be happy with what we did this season.”
In the bronze medal match there was happiness for Australians Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar following their 21-15, 19-21, 15-8 victory over Maria Antonelli and Carol Solberg of Brazil. The Aussies were almost in tears after letting a third-set lead slip in the semifinal, but were all smiles after securing their seventh medal of the season.
Following the epic ending to the 2018 season, the fun in the sun continues for the beach elite next month when the qualification for the Tokyo Olympics begins on September 1.
The 2019 campaign will again see beach volleyball drop anchor in Hamburg for the Beach Volleyball World Championships that take place from June 28 to July 7 – with the winners guaranteeing their federation a place in the Japanese capital in 2020.