The sun came out for British women’s beach volleyball pair Zara Dampney and Shauna Mullin as they fought back to beat a Canadian pair on Sunday,giving a sodden crowd something to cheer after sudden torrential downpours.
The British first-time Olympians lost the first set of their pool match against Annie Martin and Marie-Andree Lessard but found their pace in the second and won the third by a whisker,lifted by an exuberant crowd pumped up by blaring pop music.
Absolutely amazing. Obviously to win our first Olympic game,our first Olympics is a big thing,to bring home a win for GB was amazing. The crowd kept us going,lived every point with us,Dampney told reporters.
Beach volleyball matches are scored using a best-of-three-sets system in which the first two sets are played to 21 points and the third,if required,goes to 15 points. A two-point advantage is needed to win a set.
The British pair won 2-1 (17-21,21-14,15-13).
As their match progressed,a ray of late afternoon sunshine pierced the clouds above the 15,000-seater stadium built for the event at Horse Guards Parade,a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace in the heart of London.
The stadium has no roof,so players and spectators get drenched when it rains. For most of the day,brief sunny spells alternated with heavy showers,offering the unusual sight of athletes in bikinis in action on the sand while spectators in rain ponchos sat stoically under umbrellas.
Although it’s nicer,better for the spectators when the weather is better,we are ready to play in anything,said Mullin after her match.
At the London Games,24 pairs of each gender are divided into six pools for the first phase,which lasts until Aug. 2. The competition then moved to a knockout stage.
Earlier on Sunday,men’s gold medal favourites Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti of Brazil fought back from a set down to win a surprisingly tight match against a low-ranked Austrian pair.
Emanuel and Alison took an hour to subdue Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst,who saved three match points as they frustrated the Brazilians with one dramatic block after another.
The favourites eventually prevailed in their first game,winning 2-1 (19-21,21-17,16-14).
They knew very well how we played,but we did not know them. So we had to find their weaknesses first to beat them,Alison told reporters after a match that started under bright sunshine before a heavy downpour in the second set.
I did not even know it was raining. I did not see anything. I was just focused on the game,said Emanuel.
The Brazilians are an unusual pair in that Emanuel,39,had a long and very successful career with former team mate Ricardo Costa Santos,winning Olympic gold in Athens in 2004 and bronze in Beijing in 2008,before pairing up with Alison,27.
Ricardo is also competing in London with his own new team mate,Pedro Henrique Cunha.
Emanuel and Alison,favourites to win gold in London,have been playing together since 2010 and have won numerous trophies.
Another strong men’s team,reigning Olympic champions Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser of the United States,will be one of the main attractions later on Sunday. They are scheduled to take on a Japanese pair at 2200 local time