Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar won an historical silver medal for Australia as they suffered a heartbreaking loss in straight sets at the hand of American pair Ross and Klineman in the Olympic beach volleyball final.
It’s the first medal for Australia in beach volleyball at the Olympic Games since Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst triumphed on home soil at Sydney 2000 and the first ever silver.
“We are really proud of ourselves. It wasn’t easy to get here, and we played some really good volleyball to face the tough battles we had along the way. To now have an Olympic medal around our neck it’s really special,” Artacho said.
“There are so many emotions attached to this medal,” Clancy added. “A lot of the tears are happy tears, and a reminder of the amazing journey that we had. We have been resilient, and we fought hard for it, so it’s really special. Now we’re going to ride all these emotions for a bit,” she said.
Australia pushed no.2-seeded April Ross and Alix Klineman hard at times, in what was a match between two of the best serving teams in the world. Unfortunately, they could not upset a pair that came into the Olympic final undefeated and having dropped only one set during the entire tournament.
Ross and Klineman found a break early in the first set, going up 5-2 behind two consecutive aces by Ross and a block by Klineman. The pressure from team USA was relentless throughout and the Aussies could never really find any rhythm to mount a comeback. They eventually managed to save the first two of six set points but had to concede the opening set 15-21.
Clancy and Artacho del Solar started the second set well, but April Ross was on a mission to add a gold medal to her Olympic collection, having already won a silver and a bronze.
Her spin serve turned the second set around, producing 10 unanswered points to take USA from 2-0 to 2-10.
The Aussies never gave up despite the wide gap and managed to cut the lead down to as few as three points on 13-16, but the Americans were able to side out consistently and capitalise on a couple of Australian mistakes to close the match. At the end, it was 16-21 in the second set for an 0-2 USA win overall.
Clancy and Artacho del Solar did Australia proud, capping a sensational ride through the Olympic tournament with a well-deserved silver medal.
“The Americans were really good today. We knew they were up for a battle and Alix Klineman played an incredible game. We knew that we had to bring our best, and we fought hard.” Clancy said.
“Today unfortunately they were better than us and they came out stronger from the start. But we never gave up, they just had better solutions today. We’ll keep growing and moving forward and we’re so proud of what we were able to achieve,” she said.
The silver medal is a testament of how much Artacho del Solar and Clancy were able to grow as a team and as individuals from their first Olympic experiences in Rio five years ago. It also enriches even more what is a cherished personal relationship between the two players.
“The medal might not be the colour that we wanted, but I couldn’t be more proud of Mariafe and of what we were able to achieve together today,” Clancy said.
“As much as we have a different story in our journeys, it’s very similar too. Our cultures are part of what makes our relationship so special and why we click so well. Nothing was ever handed out to us, we both had to fight and that’s another part of that special connection that you see with us.”
“It’s a very special and unique bond that we have. It’s hard to put into words, but I wouldn’t want to share this moment with anyone else,” Artacho said.
“To be on the Olympic podium wearing the green and gold is a dream come true. We hope to be an example and an inspiration to everyone who has dreams and goals. If you work hard and you put your mind to it, everything is possible,” she said.