April Ross and Alix Klineman triumphed as Tokyo 2020 Olympic champions after winning the women’s beach volleyball final at Shiokaze Park on Friday. They lost only a single set over the seven matches played along the way. This was the first Olympic gold for either player, while April also had a London 2012 silver and a Rio 2016 bronze. The overall podium count for US women is now up to four gold, a silver and two bronze medals.
April & Alix celebrate Tokyo Olympic gold
Artacho Del Solar & Clancy and Verge-Depre & Heidrich complete 2020 women’s Olympic podium
Published 03:31, 06 Aug 2021
Australia’s Mariafe Artacho Del Solar and Taliqua Clancy settled for silver, their first Olympic medal and third overall for their country, after Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst won gold at Sydney 2000 and bronze at Atlanta 1996.
The bronze went to Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Heidrich. It was Switzerland’s first and Europe’s second ever Olympic medal in women’s beach volleyball history. The Alpine nation also had a bronze medal in the Athens 2004 men’s tournament.
The first set of the gold medal match was completely one-sided. April and Alix broke away with an early 7-2 lead and never looked back. The gap went as wide as eight points at 16-8 as the Americans cruised on comfortably to close the set. The A-Team were even more emphatic at the start of the second set, running off with a 10-2 lead. Artacho Del Solar and Clancy fought their way back to narrow it down to within three at 16-13 and bring back some of the suspense, but April and Alix wouldn’t have it. They were on a mission and after a convincing 2-0 (21-15, 21-16) victory their journey was complete.
It means a lot to uphold the tradition that USA has in beach volleyball. That has not been easy. The world is so good at beach volleyball now. So many different countries are putting a lot of resources into their beach volleyball teams and the level is ridiculously high. We are just really grateful that we were able to pull this off. April Ross
“I feel that US has such a legacy in beach volleyball and just to be able to join that legacy is a huge honour,” Alix Klineman added. “The field was so deep here, at the Olympics, with so many teams playing so well. We knew that anything could happen and we’re so grateful that things worked out. We put in a lot out there and this has just been such a fairy tale ending, a dream experience for us.”
“It feels really special. At the moment, it’s definitely mixed feelings. We go from being super proud to feeling a bit low, because it’s still a loss. We really wanted to get the gold, but Alix and April outplayed us today. They are such a great team!” Taliqua Clancy said. “We are grateful that we were able to get Australia back into the beach volleyball final and just grateful for Kerri and Nat to help inspire us to get here. Hopefully, now we can inspire the next generation.”
We are just enjoying the moment. It’s a big moment for us! We head home and do quarantine and then I think it’s really important for us to enjoy some family time and have a bit of down time to really enjoy what we have achieved during this whole journey through the last few years. This is just the beginning for us. Mariafe Artacho Del Solar
Latvia’s Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka took the first two points in the bronze medal match earlier on the Olympic court, but Verge-Depre and Heidrich reacted with four in a row and were practically in control for the rest of the first set. The Latvians managed to catch up on a few occasions and even denied the first two of three consecutive Swiss set points, but finally handed the set to Verge-Depre and Heidrich on an unforced error for the last point. Again, with four in a row, the Swiss broke away early into the second set (5-1) and never looked back. They dominated through to the end, with Verge-Depre delivering the winner for a 2-0 (21-19, 21-15) victory.
“It’s a huge honour to represent Switzerland and it’s a dream come true that we won this Olympic medal. We hope to inspire a lot of kids to play beach volleyball in Switzerland,” Verge-Depre said. “What we experienced as a team here is one of those stories you can’t experience in other environments. You go through so many emotions, ups and downs, over five years now. We had a back surgery, we had corona, we had mental problems to motivate ourselves at the beginning of the pandemic... There was so much going on and I think overcoming this as a team will stay in our hearts.”
The gold and silver medallists of the women’s Olympic beach volleyball tournament – Team USA’s April Ross and Alix Klineman and Australia’s Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy – also represent two of the Olympic Games’ future hosts, Los Angeles 2028 and Brisbane 2032 in a clear showcase of the bright Olympic future of the sport.