Aussies secure beach volleyball medal in 21-year first at Olympics

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The Aussie girls, pictured here after their beach volleyball semi-final win.
Australia will play for beach volleyball gold at the Tokyo Olympics. Image: Getty

Mariafe Artacho Del Solar and Taliqua Clancy have advanced to the beach volleyball gold medal match at the Tokyo Olympics, securing Australia's second medal in the event in Olympics history.

Australia has only ever medalled once in the sport - Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst's epic gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

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But Artacho Del Solar and Clancy have now broken that drought and have guaranteed themselves at least a silver medal.

The Aussies stunned the world in the quarter-finals when they upset the Canadian World No.1 pairing.

And they backed it up on Thursday, beating Latvians Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka 23-21, 21-13.

Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar, pictured here during their semi-final win over Latvia.
Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar celebrate during their semi-final win over Latvia. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

They now advance to a showdown with the United States pairing of April Ross and Alix Klineman in the gold medal match.

"Nat (Potharst) has kept in touch with us and we know Kerri has been building us up over the commentary," Clancy told Channel Seven after the win.

"They're just so great; one of our biggest cheerleaders and they saw that fire and ability and gold in us, so we're just so grateful for their time."

Kingaroy talent Clancy - Australia's first indigenous beach volleyball Olympian - and Peru-born Artacho del Solar started well, leading 17-13 before the Latvians called a time-out and then won four straight points to level the first set.

Tensions were rising but Clancy stopped the rot with a devastating spike winner off the second shot, del Solar then holding her nerve on serve to clinch the advantage with their third set point.

The Latvians had won their previous clash with the Aussies and didn't go away, jumping to a three-point lead to begin the second set.

But Australia called a time-out and dominated after the resumption of play, Clancy's big serve firing as they levelled at 10-10 to seemingly break the Latvian defence.

"Nerves are normal, but you try to turn them into positive fire, excitement, aggression," Artacho del Solar said.

"Gold, baby. We came here for gold, it's going to be a good game."

Australians flocked to social media to celebrate the remarkable achievement.

Australia and USA in gold medal beach volleyball match

Earlier, the American 'A-Team' advanced to the gold medal match by beating Switzerland 21-12, 21-11 at Shiokaze Park. 

It will be the third medal for Ross, who won silver in London and bronze in Rio de Janeiro. Klineman is a first-time Olympian.

Latvia will play for bronze against Switzerland’s Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre.

The Americans never trailed in the first set. They lost the first point of the second before rolling off three straight points to take a lead they never relinquished.

The victory also assures the United States of a beach volleyball medal for the seventh straight Summer Games. 

That’s every one of them since the sport was added to the program in Atlanta in 1996.

Only Brazil had achieved the same success, until now.

The Brazilians have been shut out in Tokyo for the first time, with none of its teams reaching the semi-finals.

with agencies

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