By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Not even the steady rain that fell throughout the men’s beach volleyball match finals on Thursday night and early Friday morning damped the spirits of the players or the crowd. The Brazilian duo of Alison and Bruno Schmidt were able to beat the Italian team in two straight sets to take the gold medal.
Although the Italian team started out better and at one point had a four-point advantage over the home team, the incredible defenses made by Schmidt and blocks made by Alison, led the Brazilian team to win the first set 21-19.
As the crowd cheered and rose up from their wet seats at every pass of the ball, the Brazilian team led throughout the second set, winning by 21-17.
The victory of the men’s beach volleyball was a relief to thousands of Brazilian volleyball fans who were disappointed on Wednesday night, when the two women’s beach volleyball teams lost their bids for this Olympics gold and bronze medals. Agatha and Barbara lost the gold to Germany’s Ludwig and Walkenhorst and received the silver medal, while Larissa and Talita lost to the bronze the U.S.’s Walsh and Ross, coming in fourth place.
Brazilians also cheered on Thursday for Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze, who after a close three-way-tie race with the women’s team from Denmark and Spain, won the class 49er FX sailing race and won the fourth gold medal for Brazil.
The women were considered favorites in the race, but with the three-way-tie and the New Zealand team just a point away from them, the two Brazilians scrambled across the finish line only a few second ahead of the others.