Czech girls bring curtain down on career of 2000 Olympic champion Natalie Cook
2012 Olympic Games
London, Great Britain, August 1, 2012. Czech duo Kristyna Kolocova and Marketa Slukova (pictured) brought the curtain down on the career of Natalie Cook when they beat her and Tamsin Hinchley in three sets to leave the Australians winless at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Cook was playing in her fifth Olympic Games, the first female beach volleyball player to reach that milestone, but losses to Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh and the Schwaiger sisters, Doris and Stefanie, meant that the match against the Czech was a must-win game. However, it was Kolocova and Slukova who finished the winners at Horse Guards Parade with a 21-16, 18-21, 15-11 victory.
“It has been an amazing journey and every Olympic Games is a different story,” Cook said. “This is the epic finish because London has embraced beach volleyball. I’m just proud to be an Australian Olympian. The Olympic Games are the greatest thing on Earth and I am privileged to have been a part of it. I just want to play more matches out there because it is so much fun.”
For the Czechs the win means they progress straight to the round of 16 after two wins in the pool stages.
“If we had lost that match we’d have been out of the group, so we had to win it,” Kolocova said. “We knew that they were getting better in the second set, but we knew we could come back in the third.”
In the other match in Pool C the Schwaiger sisters made history when they became the first team to take a set off May-Treanor and Walsh in 17 Olympic matches. They won the first set, but the Americans fought back in the second and won 17-21, 21-8, 15-10.
“It was probably not our best, but we stuck together through thick and thin,” May-Treanor said. “They are a tough team and this was a test for us. We are likely to be in the same situation and we know we can get out of it.”
“Now the fun begins,” Walsh said. “We have four more matches to the gold medal and that is our aim, so we will take it one match at a time.”
FIVB world champions Juliana Felisberta and Larissa Franca wrapped up their pool with three wins from three. Once again they bossed the match from start to finish and won 21-12, 21-18 against the Czech Republic’s Lenka Hajeckova and Hana Klapalova.
"The gold medal is still far away,” Juliana said. “I think about it step by step as a final destination and I will enjoy the journey. We’ve been tested in all the matches. We still have to play hard and make it special each match. That’s really important for us”.
Russian pair Anastasia Vasina and Anna Vozakova beat Switzerland’s Nadine Zumkehr and Simone Kuhn to top Pool B. It was a do-or-die match for the Russian duo who knew a loss could have put them out of the Olympics.
"This game was very difficult for us,” Vasina said. “It was either ending up first or last in the pool. The pressure was huge.”
China’s Chen Xue and Zhang Xi made it through to the knockout rounds, but won’t top their pool despite recording a second win of the Olympics. The number two seeds took 40 minutes to beat Greece’s Vasiliki Arvaniti and Maria Tsiartsiani, 21-17, 21-16, but finished behind Vasina and Vozakova in their pool.
“We have practiced a lot during the past four years and we also have come together more as a team,” Xue said. “Four years ago we were the second team. This year we are the only Chinese team and there is a lot more pressure on us. But we will try to relieve some of this pressure on the court.”
Ilka Semmler and Katrin Holtwick wrapped up their second win of the tournament with a 21-11, 21-10 win against Mauritius’ Elodie Li Yuk Lo and Natacha Rigobert. It means they will progress to the elimination rounds after finishing second in their pool behind Juliana and Larissa. “Our aim was to come first or second in this pool,” Semmler said. “We reached this and this is great for us. We now wait to see who we play next and study their form.”
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