Ross and Klineman won two straight sets 21-15 and 21-16 against Australia to reach top podium; Switzerland beat Latvia for bronze
April Ross and Alix Klineman gave a masterclass at the women's beach volleyball final at Shiozake Park as Team USA secured a sensational victory over Australia.
The US pair had been relentless from the start and edged out the Australian duo in the first set by 21-15.
With Klineman's aces and Ross' powerful serves, Clancy and Artacho del Solar were a no match against the US team who only had one thing in mind: to win gold.
In the second set, the Australians had a slight lead, but A- team, which the US pair is called, caught on quickly as they came firing with solid blocks and serves to secure a 21-16 lead, finishing off their opponents at 43 minutes to clinch their gold medal victory.
This is the first gold medal for Ross who has already won a silver at London 2012 with Jennifer Kessy and bronze at Rio 2016 with then partner Walsh Jennings.
“I'm still trying to process it but I'm so in the present moment here with this team and this medal. I'm so proud of my other ones but just how this worked out, and the risks that Alix took to come out onto the beach and all her hard work … it doesn't happen without that," Ross said about winning her third medal and first gold at 39-years-old.
“I can't fathom that it worked out the way it did. It's kind of a fairytale story like, 'oh, I'm going at 39 to try and get my gold medal', and the fact that it actually happened feels so special and surreal. I'm just so proud of our team and so grateful for everyone who helps us get here.”
Meanwhile, this is the first Olympic appearance of 31-year-old Klineman, who started playing with Ross in 2017.
“I was really excited when I realised that I got to put it on her (Ross) and she got to put it on me. I feel like we both tried to support each other and give this partnership as much as we have. It was a really special moment," Klineman said.
First Olympic medal for Australia since 2000
Whilst Clancy and Artacho del Solar had to settle for silver against the dominant USA's A-team, this is hardly a heartbreaking loss.
The duo have now officially ended Australia's 21-year Olympic drought since Natalie Cook and Pottharst won gold at Sydney 2000.
Clancy and Artacho also had a brilliant run on their road to the gold match, after defeating world champions Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan from Canada in the quarterfinals and Latvia in the semis.
“April and Alix played an incredible game and we knew that they were going to. April is a very experienced athlete, this is her third grand final, so we knew that we had to bring our best and we fought," Clancy said.
"It was happy tears when I was on the podium. It was just so amazing. This is a moment that just won't happen once, we'll be back there.”
And Artacho del Solar was equally proud of what they have accomplished in the Olympic Games.
“A mix of emotions. It's meant so much to us in such a short time together, we’ve accomplished so much. And to be on the podium at the Olympic Games wearing the green and gold, it's a dream come true. Regardless of the results, I'm just super proud of our team and not just that game, but this whole campaign,” she said.
Switzerland wins their first Olympic beach volleyball medal in history
Switzerland's Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Heidrich won their bronze medal match against Latvia's Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka with a solid performance.
Despite temperatures reaching 30 degrees in Tokyo and the first set starting off in a slow pace, the Swiss duo started asserting their dominance midway leading at 21-19.
Going into the second round, Switzerland held their nerve against the defence and forced Latvia under pressure. With Latvia making more errors, Switzerland found their rhythm and momentum to lead the second set at 21-15.
With two straight sets victory, Verge-Depre and Heidrich secured the bronze medal, which is Switzerland's first Olympic beach volleyball medal in history.
“It's a huge honour to represent Switzerland and it’s a dream come true that we won this Olympic medal. We hope to inspire a lot of kids to play beach volleyball in Switzerland," Verge-Depre said.