Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 17, 2016 - It will be Germany vs. Brazil for the women’s gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games after pairs from the European and South American countries won semi-final matches at the 12,000--seat “Coliseu on Copacabana” Tuesday afternoon and early Wednesday morning.
With the sixth women’s Olympic gold medal at stake as the Rio 2016 “Summer” Games marks the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the sport into the quadrennial program, fourth-seeded and FIVB World Tour leader Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany will meet second-seeded and reigning FIVB world champions Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas of Brazil for the gold medal in a “mid-night madness” match at the “Coliseu on Copacabana”.
Both teams netted two-set semi-final wins as Ludwig and Walkenhorst secured Germany’s first women’s Olympic podium placement by posting a 2-0 (21-18, 21-12) win in 38 minutes over top-seeded and heavily-favored Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca of Brazil. In the semi-final’s “mid-night madness” match, Agatha and Barbara eliminated third-seeded April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States from gold medal contention with a 2-0 (22-20, 21-18) win in 48 minutes.
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Ludwig and Walkenhorst hold a 4-1 edge in the international series with Agatha and Barbara with four-straight wins. The two teams have met twice in FIVB World Tour gold medal matches with Ludwig and Walkenhorst defeating Agatha and Barbara in the 2016 Hamburg and 2015 Yokohama finales. Agatha and Barbara’s lone win was at the 2015 Stavanger Major in Norway in a three-set semi-final match.
Entering the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour campaign that started last October in Mexico, Germany had won only two of the previous 15 gold medal matches with the Brazilians. Since the Puerto Vallarta event on the Mexican west coast, the Germans have improved it by winning three times with Ludwig and Walkenhorst posting gold medal wins over Brazilians in Mexico (Eduarda “Duda” Lisboa/Elize Maia), Hamburg (Agatha/Barbara) and Poland (Talita/Larissa).
Agatha and Barbara will be seeking to become Brazil’s first women’s Olympic gold medal winner since the Atlanta 1996 Summer Games when Jackie Silva and Sandra Pires topped the podium in the first Beach Volleyball competition at the Summer Games by defeating compatriots Monica Rodrigues and Adriana Samuel in the finals.
Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede collected silver medals at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympic Games after losing the finale to Natalie Cook/Kerri Pottharst of Australia and Misty May-Treanor/Walsh Jennings, respectively. Talita and Renata Ribeiro was Brazil’s top finisher in the Beijing 2008 Olympics with a fourth while Larissa and Juliana Felisberta claimed the bronze medal at the London 2012 Summer Games. The opponent in both the 2008 and 2014 medal matches were Chen Xue/Xi Zhang of China.
In the bronze medal match, Talita and Larissa hold a 4-1 edge over Ross and Walsh Jennings with two-straight wins in the third-place match at the smart Major Hamburg and the gold medal match at the Gstaad Major. The Americans defeated Talita and Larissa at the end of May in Moscow to win the gold medal at the Russian Grand Slam.