Norway, Brazil own the Cancun sand

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Anders Mol and Christian Sorum of Norway won the men’s FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour (event two) in Mexico on Monday while Brazilian veteran Agatha and her young apprentice Duda reigned supreme among the women in the second of three Olympic qualifying events between 15 April and 2 May of 2021 from the seaside resort city of Cancun.

Norway’s Anders Mol and Christian Sorum took home another men’s gold (their second in the space of two weeks) at the second 4-star event of the 2021 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour in Mexico. In the women’s competition, Agatha and Duda of Brazil claimed the title with a sensational two-set win over the Russian team of Nadezda Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina while April Ross and Alix Klineman (USA) scooped bronze.

It was the second time the Norwegian men’s team of Mol and Sorum met Qatar’s Cherif Samba (a veteran of the Rio 2016 Games) and Ahmed Tijan in a final in the space of six days. And the result was the same as last Tuesday as the Scandinavians roared to an emphatic win in straight sets (21-18 and 21-18) thanks in large part to the massive presence of Mol at the net.

“It’s amazing to win again, but I was so tired out there,” admitted Sorum who collapsed to his knees following the final point - the extreme heat of coastal Mexico and the condensed schedule of 12 matches in 14 days days clearly taking a toll. “Anders [Mol] had to play against me, the Qataris and the weather today. And my teammate was just amazing.”

The gigantic Mol, who displayed a dazzling array of blocks on the day, praised the opponents from Qatar, who’ve earned two silver medals from their last two world tour events (at the so-called Cancun hub).

“We had some strong battles and it’s great to be standing here with two gold medals,” Mol said after winning a 12th game out of a possible 12 in Mexico, before adding: “But huge respect to Qatar for reaching two straight finals.”

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The Beach Volley Vikings, currently the world’s number-one ranked men’s team, are looking more and more like runaway favourites for a place on the podium this summer in Tokyo. They’ve won 12 golds in the 30 events they’ve contested since joining forces in 2016 and this latest success makes it seven titles in the last ten events for the twice European champions.

Team Qatar a rising star

The Qatari team of Cherif and Tijan – who’ve been competing together since 2014 – pushed the Norwegians in the second set and their recent performances have them looking like potential medallists in their own right ahead of this summer's Games. If the two 25-year-olds can find a way to climb the podium in Tokyo, they would become only the sixth Olympic medallists from the Gulf state.

The handful of other Qatari Olympic medals came in athletics (3), weightlifting and shooting (both one).

Earlier – under the punishing heat of a Cancun midday – the Brazilian men's team of Alison Cerutti and Alvaro Morais Filho defeated Adrian Ignacio Carambula and Enrico Rossi of Italy in two sets (21-17 and 21-17).

Agatha rolls back the years

On the women’s side, the Brazilian team of Agatha Bednarczuk and 22-year-old Eduarda Santos Lisboa (Duda) steamrolled Makroguzova and Kholomina of ROC in two straight sets (21-15 and 21-19) to take home the gold.

Agatha, 37-year-old icon of the sport and Rio 2016 silver medal winner, was in no way fazed by the blazing heat as she and her young teammate strolled to the win over a Russian side that eliminated favourites Ross and Klineman of the USA in the semifinal round.

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“Agatha was brilliant today. I’m so excited to have won,” said Duda after the Brazilian pair’s sixth gold as a team.

Agatha seconded those feelings after the stylish victory: “It’s an amazing feeling. We’re proud of our victory and we had to work very hard. We’re a little tired mentally, so we’re happy, but we need a few days off.”

Another medal for USA’s April and Alix

Veteran Ross and Klineman of the USA managed to scoop bronze earlier. A straight-sets victory (21-17 and 21-17) over the Dutch duo of Sanne Kiezer and Madelein Meppelink made it two medals in two competitions in 2021 for the American pair – who joined up as a team in 2017 and are currently ranked second in the world behind Canadians Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan.

LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA - JULY 19: In this handout image provided by AVP, April Ross and Alix Klineman compete against Sarah Pavan (not pictured) and Melissa Humana-Paredes (not pictured) in the semifinals during the Monster Hydro Cup on July 19, 2020 in Long Beach, California. (Photo by Robert Beck/AVP via Getty Images)
LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA - JULY 19: In this handout image provided by AVP, April Ross and Alix Klineman compete against Sarah Pavan (not pictured) and Melissa Humana-Paredes (not pictured) in the semifinals during the Monster Hydro Cup on July 19, 2020 in Long Beach, California. (Photo by Robert Beck/AVP via Getty Images)
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“It’s amazing,” said twice Olympic medallist (silver and bronze) Ross, 38, after the win.

It’s a first bronze medal for this American team and they’ll slip it right in the trophy case beside the gold they won in Doha last month.

“This one was really hard to win with the atmosphere, the heat and the wind. We’re a happy team right now with this finish.”

Competition continues in the coming days at the Cancun hub with one more (of three) world tour events (28 April to 2 May).

The Tokyo 2020 (in 2021) Olympic Beach Volleyball Tournament will consist of 24 men’s and 24 women’s teams and takes place at the iconic venue of Shiokaze Park on the banks of Tokyo Bay.

Qualification for this summer’s Olympic Beach Volleyball Tournament (24 July to 7 August) is based on the FIVB world rankings (and five Continental Cup Finals). The official participants for this summer’s Tokyo Games will not be confirmed until June.

FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event in Cancun (21 to 26 April) Results

Men’s

1.    Norway – Mol/Sorum 

2.    Qatar – Samba/Tijan

3.    Brazil – Alison/Alvaro Filho

4.    Italy – Carambula/Rossi

Women’s

1.    Brazil – Agatha/Duda

2.    Russian Organising Committee (ROC) – Makroguzova/Kholomina

3.    USA – Ross/Klineman

4.    Netherlands – Keizer/Meppelink

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