The oldest among the 44 men’s teams that competed at this week’s Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour La Paz Challenge, Spanish veterans Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira used the experience to their favor and overcame some strong competition to win gold in Mexico.
Forever young Herrera and Gavira win spectacular La Paz gold
The Spanish veterans return to the top of the podium after five years
Published 03:03, 20 Mar 2023
The two found their way to the top of the podium after a hard-fought, three-set (21-17, 15-21, 15-12) gold medal match in which they got the better of Dutch Stefan Boermans and Yorick De Groot, who took silver. The new Austrian duo of Robi Seidl and Moritz Pristauz earned bronze.
With a combined age of 75 years, the 40-year-old Herrera and the 35-year-old Gavira were tested this week in Mexico, facing five tie-breakers in their six matches and winning all of them on their way to taking gold.
Partners since 2009, the Spanish returned to the top of the podium for the first time since June 2018, when they took gold at the FIVB World Tour event in Ostrava. Their victory in La Paz also happened eight years after their first triumph as partners, which was in Moscow, in 2015.
The title in Mexico is also a testament to Herrera’s longevity in the sport and his ability to remain competitive for the last two decades. The Spanish won his first international gold medal in May 2004, the same year in which he made the first of his five Olympic appearances, and is now back at the top of the podium nearly 19 years later.
“To get back to the podium after five years is incredible,” he said at the end of the gold medal match. “We had some issues with the wind at the start but I feel that every day we got better used to it. The final was an amazing battle. We work hard to win every day, but didn't really expect to have such a good result here in La Paz.”
The triumph was also very emotional for Gavira, who endured some tough weeks ahead of the La Paz Challenge dealing with the death of his father. The gold medal match in Mexico was played on the date that Father’s Day is celebrated in Spain and the player paid a tribute to his dad with the victory.
“I’ve had some difficult weeks, but once we decided to come to Mexico and I realized that the gold medal match would fall on Father’s Day, it became a goal for me to win a medal here,” he commented. “But not even in my best dreams I thought that the week could end like this. This victory is for my father, I’m sure he’s really proud wherever he is now. He would for sure want us to keep going and it was a big weekend for my family as I have a sister who's a soccer player and her team (Granadilla) just beat Real Madrid. I couldn't honor him in a better way than I did today.”
The second all-European men’s podium of the 2023 season was completed with Seidl and Pristauz’s two-set (21-16, 26-24) victory over Brazilians Evandro Gonçalves and Arthur Lanci in the bronze medal match.
The Austrians became partners following the Doha Elite16, in February, and had immediate success, winning a medal in their first tournament together.
Mexico will host another Beach Pro Tour event next week, when the biggest stars of the sport will compete in the Tepic Elite16 from Wednesday to Sunday.