Aussies' classy act after missing beach volleyball gold at Olympics

Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Teliqua Clancy, pictured here after going down to the USA in the gold medal match.
Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Teliqua Clancy went down to the USA in the gold medal match. Image: Getty

Australia's Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy have gone down to the USA in the beach volleyball gold medal match at the Olympics.

Artacho del Solar and Clancy were no match for the American pairing of April Ross and Alix Klineman on Friday, losing to the World No.2 team 21-15, 21-16.

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However the Aussies still did themselves proud and go home with the silver - the country's first medal in beach volleyball since Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst's famous gold in 2000 in Sydney.

Artacho del Solar and Clancy stunned the Canadian World No.1 team in the quarter-finals and won the hearts of the Australian public with their run to the final.

Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy, pictured here after winning Australia's first Olympic medal in beach volleyball since 2000.
Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy won Australia's first Olympic medal in beach volleyball since 2000. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

"It means a huge amount, we want to get our sport back on the international stage. In Australia we want to inspire the next generation," Artacho del Solar said after Australia's semi-final victory over Latvia.

"This is where my dream started by watching them (Cook and Pottharst) ... that's how simple these moments can be."

The gold medal is the United States' fourth in beach volleyball.

Despite the loss, Artacho del Solar and Clancy showed their class after the final point, walking under the net to the other side of the court to congratulate their opponents.

Aussie fans flocked to social media to commend Artacho del Solar and Clancy on their phenomenal run and sportsmanship.

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Clancy, the first Indigenous player to represent Australia in the sport, grew up more than 200 kilometres from the ocean in rural Queensland.

Clancy and Artacho del Solar, who was born in Peru and shifted to Sydney at age 11, both cite Sydney 2000 as a pivotal moment in their lives.

For Clancy, a proud Wulli Wulli and Goreng Goreng woman who excelled at athletics and netball before discovering indoor volleyball at high school, it was being glued to the TV for Cathy Freeman's 400m triumph.

For Artacho del Solar it was an inspirational postcard, signed by Cook and Pottharst, sent to her family in Peru.

The Australians were outgunned by Ross and Klineman in a rematch of the 2019 world championships semi-final.

Clancy and Artacho del Solar were under the pump early, trailing 7-2 in the opening set.

Australia won the next two points but couldn't make further inroads, eventually confronting the difficult challenge of trying to save six set points.

Artacho del Solar saved one but her ensuing serve went wide, meaning Ross and Klineman took the first set in 20 minutes.

Australia started the second set with more composure and aggression, winning the first two points before their opponents surged to a 10-2 lead.

Clancy and Artacho del Solar rallied again, trailing 16-12 to create some doubt in Ross and Klineman's minds.

But they once again were left with too much work to do, saving two of six match points before Artacho del Solar's serve went wide and ended the contest.

Ross' gold medal comes after collecting silver (London 2012) and bronze (Rio 2016) with different partners, while it was Klineman's first Olympics after she switched from indoor to beach volleyball in 2017.

Earlier, Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland cruised to a straight-sets victory over Latvia to claim the bronze medal.

It's the first medal ever for the Swiss women on the beach.

The Swiss edged Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka 21-19 in the first set before opening a 5-1 lead in the second and pulling away to win 21-15.

with agencies

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