Tokyo Olympics Recap: USA's 'A-Team' win beach volleyball gold

By Sports Desk August 06, 2021

April Ross completed her set of Olympic medals as she teamed with Alix Klineman to defeat Australia's Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho to win another beach volleyball gold for the USA.

The American duo, dubbed the "A-Team", rolled to a 21-15 21-16 victory at sweltering Shiokaze Park for the USA's fourth gold in the event. Brazil, Australia and Germany are the only other countries to win, claiming one gold each. 

Ross, 39, became the oldest woman to medal in beach volleyball as she added to the silver medal she won with partner Jennifer Kessy at London 2012 and her bronze with Kerri Walsh Jennings at Rio 2016. 

She is the first person to win a beach volleyball medal with three different partners. Klineman, 31, moved from indoor volleyball to the beach in 2017 and began playing with Ross late that year, a partnership that culminated in gold in Tokyo. 

"I'm still trying to process it but I'm so in the present moment here with this team and this medal," Ross said. "I'm so proud of my other ones but just how this worked out, and the risks that Alix took to come out onto the beach and all her hard work … it doesn't happen without that.

"I can't fathom that it worked out the way it did. It's kind of a fairytale story like, 'Oh, I'm going at 39 to try and get my gold medal', and the fact that it actually happened feels so special and surreal. I'm just so proud of our team and so grateful for everyone who helps us get here.”

Switzerland's Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre won bronze earlier Friday by defeating Latvia's Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka 21-19 21-15. 

ANOTHER HOCKEY MEDAL FOR TEAM GB

While they were disappointed not to be able to defend their hockey gold from Rio, Great Britain's women will leave Tokyo with bronze after a second-half comeback to defeat India 4-3. 

Grace Balsdon's goal off a penalty corner in the 48th minute was the difference for Team GB, who took a 2-0 lead before falling behind 3-2 at the half. 

Hollie Pearne-Webb equalised five minutes into the third quarter, just the fourth goal of her career. 

"It probably sums up our whole cycle, that match," said Laura Unsworth. "We start well, and then we have a bit of a dip, then we come back well. That game was probably our cycle.

"But I think the resilience and the fight in our team came out, and we weren't going to walk off this pitch without giving our all and that's certainly what we did."

Unsworth, 33, was part of Britain's Rio team and the London 2012 squad that won bronze. 

"When I first started as a little girl I don't think I could have dreamed of that," Unsworth said. "I've got to thank all of my team-mates, every single one of them who has been a part of these medals.

"But wow, I think I can retire a very, very, very happy person."

POLAND'S TOMALA TAKES GOLD IN 'BORING' 50K WALK

Dawid Tomala revived Poland's 50km race walk tradition, taking the gold medal Friday by 36 seconds over Jonathan Hilbert of Germany while Evan Dunfee of Canada was 51 seconds back for the bronze. 

Tomala finished in three hours, 50 minutes, eight seconds to become his nation's second champion in the event after Robert Korzeniowski won gold in 1996, 2000 and 2004. 

"The first 30km was so easy for me," Tomala said. "It was easy like [a] slow training [session]. Everything was amazing, Too perfect. So I was thinking maybe we can do something. The 50km is so boring, I have to do something [and move ahead of the field]."

The 31-year-old Tomala usually competes in the 20km race walk and had finished only one other 50km race prior to Friday, placing fifth at Dudince, Slovakia in March. 

"This was only the second 50km in my life and I win it," he said. "It is crazy, right?"

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