Cheerful Chinese get Russian revenge in beach volley
LONDON - Reuters
China's Xue Chen and Zhang Xi (R) celebrate at the end of the women's Beach Volleyball round of 16 match against Russia. AFP photo
Chinese women's beach volleyball pair Xue Chen and Zhang Xi powered into the Olympic quarter finals today with an easy win over a Russian pair that soothed the pain of their shock defeat to another Russian team in their first pool match.
In the men's event, Brazilian world champions Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti had no mercy for Germans Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik, defeating them by 21-16 21-14 with a relentless barrage of spikes and blocks.
Surprise bronze medallists in Beijing in 2008, the Chinese women came to London with high expectations but under-performed on the first day. They have recovered their poise, as Evgenia Ukolova and Ekaterina Khomyakova learnt to their cost.
"We found our own style and our own tactics. We didn't change the way we play for the Russians, we just played our own way," said Xue after the pair won by two sets to nil, with the emphatic score of 21-12 21-11.
The Russian pair who had beaten the Chinese in the pool phase, Anastasia Vasina and Anna Vozakova, were eliminated late on Friday by Austrian sisters Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger. Russian participation in the women's event is now over.
"They have a good chance to win the Olympic gold medal. They are playing really well," Ukolova said of her victors.
"Now it's a strange feeling because I'm not happy about this game, no, but it was our first Olympic Games, we passed the pool, I'm happy that I was here, it's good experience hopefully for the next Olympics," she said.
Kerri Pottharst of Australia, gold medallist in Sydney in 2000 and a friend of the Chinese pair, cheered them to success on Saturday. Pottharst said their strength was their ability to focus on their own game rather than worry about the opposition.
The Chinese, whose engaging personalities have made them popular on the beach volleyball world tour, said they were enjoying London in a way that had been impossible in Beijing.
"Here is better than Beijing. The people are so warm," said Xue, while Zhang added: "The pressure in Beijing ... So we really enjoy it here." Both chuckled at the memories.