Brazil scooped three gold medals on the final day of the ANOC World Beach Games yesterday, as the curtain came down on the inaugural edition of the event hosted impeccably by Qatar across various venues in the country.
Katara Beach was the magnificent setting for the last day of the competition as medals were handed out in 3x3 basketball, handball, soccer, tennis, volleyball 4x4 and kitefoil racing.
It was Brazil’s day out in the sun and sand as the South American nation walked away with three golds and one silver. Despite Brazil’s late surge, Spain finished on top of the medal tally after more than 1,200 athletes from 97 nations competed for top honours over six days.
Spain added one more gold on the final day, courtesy their women’s soccer team, to finish with 10 medals (7 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze).
Brazil are second on the table with five gold, four sliver and three bronze, ahead of Italy (4 golds, 1 silver and 1 bronze).
In soccer, the Brazilian men displayed their much acclaimed Samba skills as they dazzled in the sand to crush Russia 9-3 in the final. Brazil led 2-0 after the end of first period and never looked back before romping to an easy victory. Mauricinho Pereira was the star of the show with a hat-trick, including two long range specials that delighted the packed stand, while Lucas Araujo Azevedo scored a brace.
“It’s amazing. It’s an honour to be here in such a great event and to be able to play the sport that I love,” Mauricinho said. “I feel really honoured to wear the jersey and to play for Brazil. I could not be happier.”
Iran took bronze with a 3-1 win on penalties against Italy, after the match had ended 5-5 after extra time. Britain were the surprise package in women’s soccer, but they found Spain to be a match too far and went down 3-2 to settle for silver. Brazil beat Russia 4-3 for the bronze.
Spain’s Andrea Miron Castro was speechless after winning the title. “No words, we have no words. We managed something very big and we have managed to win it as we are brave and always looking for our possibilities and fighting to the end. So, we cannot say anything because we have no words,” Castro said.
Meanwhile, Brazil needed a nail-biting shootout to beat Spain in a scintillating handball final.
Qatar missed out on bronze, losing another close contest 2-1 to Sweden. Denmark claimed the women’s gold, beating Hungary 2-0 with Brazil defeating Vietnam for bronze.
In the second face-off for gold between two nations yesterday, Russia edged past Brazil 21-19 in the men’s 3x3 basketball final. Mongolia worked hard for the bronze medal by beating Ukraine. France were worthy winners of the women’s gold, overcoming a plucky Netherlands in the final. China beat Brazil, who had earlier knocked out the strong favourites USA, to take bronze.
Earlier in the day, it was an all-European haul of the medals in the men’s kitefoil racing with Germany’s Florian Gruber taking gold, followed by Nicolas Parlier, of France, and Guy Bridge, who claimed Britain’s first medal of the Games. World and European champion Gruber won two consecutive races in the final.
As the second-placed qualifier, Gruber had to win two races before Nicolas Parlier won one in order to fulfil his gold medal dream.
Speaking after his win, Gruber said: “I wouldn’t believe it if someone had told me before the race. Nico had a really good regatta and I had also some really good races so we were battling a lot, and then to start with a win in the final, we were tied, so it was all for the last race. I just had a good start and I think almost a perfect race, no single mistake, and it was nice to have a close fight until the last round.”
The mixed doubles tennis gold was won by Brazil’s Andre Baran and Rafella Miiller, who beat Nicolas Gianotti and Marie Eve Hoarau, of France 6-1, 6-1. The bronze also went Brazil’s way to Vinicius Font and Joana Cortez, who beat Tommaso Giovannini and Flaminia Daina of Italy 4-6, 7-6, 10-8 in a thriller.
Baran and Miller dispatched the French team, the surprise duo of the tournament, in just 38 minutes in the final. Gianottia and Hoarau, victors over the other Brazilian team in the day’s earlier semi-finals, were able to win the second game of the first set and take the next two to deuce, but were clearly outmatched by Baran and Miller for the remainder of the evening.
“Our strategy worked perfectly,” Miller said. “We played a lot of points to Hoarau. I just wanted this medal so much. We just gave 100 percent.”
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