Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 11, 2016 - Ekaterina Birlova and Evgenia Ukolova know a lot about being a “lucky loser”. The second “lucky loser” happening is probably better than the first “lucky loser” occurrence. But, without the first, the second would not be possible.
In the end, all that is important for the Russians was winning one of the two women’s Rio 2016 Olympic Games’ “lucky loser” matches here early Friday morning as Birlova and Ukolova posted a 2-1 (21-19, 12-21, 15-10) victory in 46 minutes over Barbara Hermannova and Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic.
A month before the start of the Copacabana quadrennial action, Birlova, Ukolova and two other Russian players received a “wild card” berth for FIVB Continental Cup Finals in July where the final two spots for both the men’s and women’s Beach Volleyball competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games were decided in Sochi, Russia.
The “wild card” was granted since host Russia did not have a women’s team in the FIVB CC Finals after Birlova, Ukolova and the other two players failed to medal at the European confederation’s Continental Cup completion at the end of June in Stavanger, Norway. The European winner (The Netherlands) advanced to Rio while the silver and bronze medal (Czech Republic and Ukraine) had another opportunity to qualify for the Olympics.
In Sochi, both the Czech Republic and Russia qualified for Rio and it was ironic that two teams from those country would play for a spot in the 16-team elimination matches to be played Friday and Saturday. Now, the “lucky” Russians meet Spain’s Elsa Baquerizo and Liliana Fernandez Friday in a match between two teams that placed ninth at the London 2012 Olympic Games.