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2015-07-16 11:36:00 CET

Epic tournament at the Gstaadium

Julius Brink recaps the Gstaad Major in his blog and points out his highlights of the tour stop in Switzerland – An emotional rollercoaster included.

Photocredit: Horst BernhardPhotocredit: Horst Bernhard

Picking out the highlights from Gstaad isn’t easy, ‘cause I am still dazzled when I think about that scene – all those athletes having a great time while playing outstanding beach volleyball up in the mountains. It was beautiful.

I imagine that, like me, many fans were keeping an eye on the medal winners from the World Champs in The Hague, curious as to how they’d do given the short recovery time and seriously hot temperatures in Gstaad.

But I didn’t see evidence of a "World Champs hangover" in the better-performing teams from The Hague. Not at all. On the men’s side, the championship gave an extra boost to Alison and Bruno, who had a big fight on their hands in the Gstaad final against Samoilovs and Smedins from Latvia.

The Latvians couldn’t show the full extent of their quality because they’re still coming back from a knee injury to Smedins early in the season, but there is no doubt that these guys will be the team to beat in the future. If you play beach volleyball for fun and don’t have the height of players like Evandro, Varenhorst, Alison, Dalhausser and so on, this is the team to watch to understand how to play a tactically and technically brilliant game (using overhand set) with a fighting spirit – the way I like it.

So Alison and Bruno struggled in that final but did not fall. These Brasilians are on the top of the world now, as you can see here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLzIt_bVmiI

Even though Talita and Larissa from Brasil showed enormous class in a way-too-short final, dominating like no other women’s team so far, there was another moment that impressed me a lot, and I still feel almost as speechless now as I felt when I had to do the sideline interview with Kerri Walsh Jennings from the USA after her Quarter Final.

But you know me, I’m never really speechless. So here’s what happened.

Kerri and her partner April Ross were crushing the new world champions from Brasil, Agatha and Barbara, in the Quarters on Friday. The first set went to the U.S., and the Americans were ahead 10:4 in the second set when suddenly Kerri dislocated her right shoulder on a spike. The fans were shocked, and the players – knowing that this had also happened earlier in the season, costing Kerri a lot of Olympic qualifying points so far in 2015 – were stunned. There was silence on the court.

As I watched from the stands, I was even more shocked to see that Barbara and Agatha were supporting Kerri, holding her hand while the physios put the shoulder back in place right there in the middle of Center Court. A great gesture of fair play, but I couldn’t believe my eyes.

As the protocol of a medical timeout gives you just a five-minute break, probably no-one believed Kerri would come back. I sure didn’t expect it – I was already thinking about having a chat later in the hospital to give her some support.

But what I saw from that moment on was proof of what a warrior Kerri Walsh is.

She kept on playing, serving underhand and spiking with her left. And she won.

Photocredit: Mike RanzPhotocredit: Mike Ranz

I was on the tour for almost 10 years and have been watching it even longer, but I have never seen someone that mentally and physically strong. And even though, as Kerri said in our interview on Sunday, maybe it wasn’t too smart from a medical point of view to keep on playing, this demonstrates why she is so successful. Kerri Walsh wants to win. No matter how hard the conditions are, and no matter how many Olympic gold medals she has already won, she is determined to come out on top. This attitude is what makes her such an outstanding sportswoman – and for me the most outstanding sportsperson in beach volleyball ever. She has all my respect. We can be so happy to have her on the Swatch Major Series. All the best for her recovery. There is nothing more to say. Over and out...

Bye for now.

Julius

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