Chetumal, Mexico, November 17, 2019 – The highlight of 2019 for Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho was certainly the bronze medal they won at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in July, but the Australians found yet another reason to end the year with a smile on their faces as they won the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event in Chetumal, Mexico on Sunday.
Clancy and Artacho came from behind for the third time in their last three matches on Mexican soil to defeat China’s Fan Wang and Xinyi Xia 2-1 (15-21, 21-14, 15-12) and secure the gold medal of the four-star event. The Netherlands’ Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink took the bronze.
The Australians, who will share the $20,000 prize money and add 800 points to their world and Olympic rankings totals, have secured their sixth World Tour gold medal and the fourth in a different continent as they had also won events in Europe (Lucerne, Espinho and Warsaw), Asia (Qinzhou) and Oceania (Sydney).
They also remain undefeated against the Chinese, now with five World Tour victories and no setbacks. They topped Wang and Xia at this year’s Asian Championships gold medal match.
“We’ve played them a lot of times already and we knew they were a really good team,” Artacho explained. “We didn’t start well, but for us it was just about being patient, sticking to our game plan and believing we could turn things around. To win this tournament, it means a lot for us.”
The triumph in Chetumal means the Australians, who collected the bronze medal at this year’s World Championships, end the year on a high after they missed almost four months of competition between July and the end of October due to a knee injury sustained by Artacho. The team returned to action in Qinzhou, just two weeks ago, and topped the podium in their second tournament since then.
“Unfortunately we were forced to take some time off due to Mariafe’s injury, but her rehab went so well that I think she came back even stronger,” Clancy added. “I’m so proud of her and of what we could do as a team in 2019. It’s amazing that we managed to pick up right where we left off. I felt our game was flowing really well and it’s great that we managed to end the year on a high.”
Meppelink and Keizer, the 2018 European champions, secured the bronze, their first medal since May, when they were also third in Ostrava, due to a left arm injury acquired by Brazilian defender Taiana Lima, who was not able to play with partner Talita Antunes.
From left to right: Silver medals for China's Fan Wang and Xinyi Xia, gold for Australia's Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy and bronze for the Netherlands' Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink.