Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, September 6, 2015 - On Tuesday three blocks away from the iconic beach, Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca were named as one of the two women’s teams to represent Brazil in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games next August in the South American coastal city.
Here Sunday on Copacabana where the Rio Summer Games will be held, Talita and Larissa validated the spot in the Rio Olympics by defeating newly-crowned FIVB world champions and compatriots Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas 2-1 (32-30, 18-21, 15-12) in a 71-minute gold medal match at the US$175,000 Rio Open before a jam-packed stadium court on the iconic beach.
“It was a very tough match,” said Talita as the two teams were meeting on the FIVB World Tour for the first-time this season after splitting a pair of matches last year in Klagenfurt, Austria. “Agatha and Barbara battled to the end and overcame a four-point deficit in the third set to tie the match at 10s and 11s. Thankfully, we made the plays at the end to win.”
In sharing the $11,000 first-place prize, Talita and Larissa captured their sixth gold medal this season and 10th since forming their partnership last July. Agatha and Barbara, who have won three times this season highlighted by the gold medal finish July 4 at the FIVB World Championships in The Hague, split $8,000 for placing second.
Adding a podium-topping performance by Maria Antonelli and Juliana Felisberta in mid-June at the Stavanger Major in Stavanger, the Brazilian women have won 10 of the 13 FIVB World Tour women’s events in 2015 to tie for the second-most gold medal finishes in a season since the start of the women’s international tour in 1992. The South American women topped 12 podium in 2009 and 10 in 1996.
In the bronze medal match, Madelein Meppelink and Marleen Van Iersel of The Netherlands claimed the $6,000 third-place prize by defeating Antonelli and Juliana 2-0 (21-15, 21-17) in 41 minutes. Antonelli and Juliana, who are vying with Agatha and Barbara for the second Brazilian spot in the Rio Olympics, shared $4,500 for fourth-place.
With the Rio Open being the 290th FIVB World Tour event since the start of women’s international competition in 1992, Brazil has now won 147 gold medals. Sunday’s finale was the 56th-time that two Brazilian women’s pairs have advanced to the world tour gold medal match.
Serving as a “test” event for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the Rio Open also featured men’s competition where Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins of Latvia defeated Markus Bockermann and Lars Fluggen of Germany 2-0 (21-15, 25-23) in 45 minutes to win the gold medal.
Following the Rio Open, the FIVB World Tour crosses the Atlantic Ocean for a stop in Russia (Sochi, September 8-13) before taking a week off. After visiting China (Xiamen, September 22-27) for the second-time in 2015 for an “open” event, the “elite” players on the international circuit will be featured September 29-October 4 at the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.