Austrian pair almost upsets reigning world champions at Horse Guards Parade
2012 Olympic Games
London, Great Britain, July 29, 2012. Defending Olympic champions Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser began the London 2012 Olympic Games with a comfortable win that banished memories of their losing start to Beijing 2008.
Four years ago the US team slipped to a shock defeat to Latvia’s Martins Plavins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs in their opening match, but at Horse Guards Parade they finished with a 21-15, 21-16 victory over Japan’s Kentaro Asahi and Katsuhiro Shiratori.
“We were always confident going in,” Rogers said. “We felt we were playing our best. If we play our best we can’t be beat. There was no pressure coming in here really. We talked about it a lot in the last three weeks. We came to have fun because we didn’t have a lot of fun in the first week in Beijing. There wasn’t a sense of relief. I had a little bit of nerves about an hour, hour and a half before the match, but I had really good warm-up and had a little run for 20 minutes because it’s a little bit chilly and after that I felt good.”
Rogers and Dalhausser’s victory completes a clean sweep of wins for the US teams in London so far. Their compatriots Jacob Gibb and Sean Rosenthal also began with a win, while Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, and Jennifer Kessy and April Ross both won in straight sets in the women’s competition.
“That’s what we all wanted,” Rogers said. “It is fun to watch the matches of the women and the men, so we wanted to make it an undefeated first round for the USA.”
FIVB world champions and number one seeds Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti of Brazil came close to a shock loss to Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst in their opening match at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The Austrians were fired up for the first set and went 1-0 ahead, but the Brazilians fought back and while they were pushed hard till the end the 2011 FIVB SWATCH World Tour champions finished with a 19-21, 21-17, and 16-14 at Horse Guards Parade.
“Matches at the Olympics Games are always like this,” Emanuel said. “We haven’t played them at all this year so we don’t know much about them, but they seemed to know a lot about us. In the first set we made a few mistakes and they had a very strong serve. They threw everything at him (Alison) and he did well in the second set. He had three pressure points and at 14-14 he changed the match.” Emanuel is in London with the sole intention of adding a second gold medal to the one he won with Ricardo Santos at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
One of the men he defeated in that final in Athens, Pablo Herrera, also began with a win. He and Adrian Gavira beat the Czech Republic’s Petr Benes and Premysl Kubala 25-23, 21-16. It is the first time that they have competed since the smart Grand Slam, Rome in early June as he has been trying to overcome an injury to his right knee.
“It’s ok, but not quite right,” Herrera said. “I have had a month without playing and just having physiotherapy on it, but I am confident that it will be ok.”
In 2004 Herrera played alongside Javier Bosma and then Raul Mesa in Beijing 2008. For Gavira it is his first Olympic Games though he managed to hide any nerves on his Olympic debut. “There wasn’t much to say to him, because his he is so confident and not nervous at all,” Herrera said. “Playing in an Olympics is a dream for any player and it was important to start with a victory.”
Dutch veterans Richard Schuil and Reinder Nummerdor began with a 21-18, 17-21, 15-10 win over Venezuelan’s Igor Hernandez and Jesus Villafane. “This was the game I was dreading the most, so I am glad we’ve got it behind us and we won,” Schuil said. “It was difficult playing these really short guys that can jump really high.”
The Venezuelans were making their debut in the Olympic Games and had the Horse Guards Parade crowd firmly in their corner. They made life difficult for the Dutch side and remain confident for their next two pool matches. “We are just going to take it game by game,” Villafane said. “Although we lost, the way we played today was very satisfying and it will give us confidence.”
There were also wins for Latvia’s flag-bearer Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins, and Italy’s Daniele Lupo and Nicolai Lupo.
Later in the day FIVB President Jizhong Wei, who has been an enthusiastic visitor to Horse Guard’s Parade, expressed his delight at the way beach volleyball had been organized by the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
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