Host City: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Venue(s): Copacabana Stadium, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro
Date Started: August 6, 2016
Date Finished: August 18, 2016
Format: Top 16 teams from round-robin pools advanced to the single-elimination tournament.
The Brazilian pair of [Alison Cerutti] (Olympic silver medallist in 2012) and [Bruno Schmidt] went to Rio as the reigning world champions and top seeds, with the Netherlands pair they beat in the final, [Reinder Nummerdor] and [Christiaan Varenhorst], the number five seeds, also amongst the favourites. But it was perhaps another Dutch pair and second seeds, [Alexander Brouwer] and [Robert Meeuwsen], who posed a bigger threat to the Brazilians. The third seeds were the Americans [Nick Lucena] and [Phil Dalhausser] and were another fancied pairing. The reigning Olympic champions [Julius Brink] and [Jonas Reckermann] did not defend their title because London 2012 was their last tournament together before Reckermannâs retirement.
All the fancied pairs made it out of their respective qualifying groups with the exception of the Latvian world number ones [Aleksandrs Samoilovs] and [JÄnis Å mÄdiÅÅ¡], who finished at the bottom of their group. The Dutch World Championship silver medalists Nummerdor and Varenhorst qualified despite losing to the Russians [Vyacheslav Krasilnikov] and [Konstantin Semyonov]. The Italians [Alex Ranghieri] and [Adrian Carambula] were in the same group as Alison and Bruno Schmidt but both pairs qualified despite each losing one match. Schmidt is the cousin of Brazilian Olympic basketball star and Hall of Famer [Oscar Schmidt], who was the first man to score 1,000 points in an Olympic career.
The big surprise of the last 16 was the defeat of world number three Ranghieri and Carambula in straight sets by their fellow Italians [Daniele Lupo] and [Paolo Nicolai], ranked 22 in the world and only in the last 16 after winning their lucky loser play-off match in three sets. The 2015 World Championship silver medallists Nummerdor and Varenhorst set up a quarter-final meeting with fellow countrymen Brouwer and Meeuwsen.
The quarter-finals were played in a very stiff breeze and the last eight saw Brouwer and Meeuwsen win the all-Netherlands clash in straight sets whilst the Brazilian favourites Alison and Bruno Schmidt beat the Americans Delhausser and Lucena 21-14, 12-21, 15-9. Lupo and Nicolai beat the Russian No.2 pair of [Dmitry Barsuk] and [Nikita Lyamin] in a close three-setter, 21-18, 20-22, 15-11, but Krasilnikov and Semenov did give Russia a team in the semi-finals after beating the Cuban duo of [Nivaldo Nadhir DÃaz] and [Sergio Reynaldo GonzÃ¡lez] in the game of the round with the third deciding set going to 18-16, after the Russians had won the first set 22-20 and the Cubans the second 24-22.
The Brazilians were first to play in the semis and the enthusiastic home supporters were treated to a magnificent match at the end of which they got the result they wanted â but it was close. Brouwer and Meeuwsen pushed Alison and Bruno Schmidt in the first set before the Brazilians took it 21-17, but the number two seeds levelled it by winning a tight second set 23-21 and it was down to the deciding third set. Alison and Bruno Schmidt looked like easy winners as they raced to a 10-7 lead, but in no time they found themselves trailing 11-12. The lead then changed hands before the Brazilians went 14-13 up and then had their fifth match point of the night ,but it was again saved. The home pair did not, however, let their sixth match point slip away as they won 16-14.
The other semi-final also went to three sets when the Italian outsiders, Nicolai and Lupo overcame a first set 15-21 reverse against the ninth seeded Krasilnikov and Semenov to win the next 21-16 and the decider 15-13. The bronze medal match was close with Brouwer and Meeuwsen beating Krasilnikov and Semenov 23-21, 22-20 in their fifth win in six international meetings against the Russians. It was also the first ever medal won by Netherlands in Olympic beach volleyball.
The final was the fifth consecutive menâs final that had seen a Brazilian pair going for the top prize but on just one previous occasion, when [Emanuel Rego] and [Ricardo Santos] won in 2004, had they won the gold medal. For Italy, it was the first ever appearance in an Olympic beach volleyball final, male or female, and win or lose, it would be their first medal â they had never previously reached the semi-final in either competition.
After seeing the Brazilian women fail to win a gold medal, the full house at the Beach Volleyball Arena were hoping their two men, Alison and Bruno Schmidt could deliver, and they did not disappoint as they beat Nicolai and Lupo 21-19, 21-17 to become Olympic champions and add further gold to their 2015 world title. But the Italian pair, who had won their second European title in 2016, made it tough in the first set by racing into a 5-1 lead before the Brazilians then led 13-10 but they then let the Italian pair get into a commanding position at 19-18 before the home players, with the crowd behind them, won three points in a row to take the set 21-19. The Italians held a three point lead on four occasions in the second set. The last was at 11-8 before Alison and Bruno Schmidt took charge and ran out 21-17 winners, and for Alison Cerutti, it made up for his disappointment of a silver medal at London 2012.