01.08.2019 - Vienna, Austria
Imagine you had just won the first-ever beach volleyball medal for your country at the Pan-American Games and, guess what, it was a gold one. All you’d want to do is take that night off and properly celebrate that accomplishment, right?
Well, not if you are the Grimalt cousins Marco and Esteban. The A1 Major Vienna presented by Swatch was set to start in less than 48 hours.
With Olympic qualification underway and the electric atmosphere of the Danube Island waiting for them, the Chileans hopped on a plane just a few hours after defeating Mexicans Juan Virgen and Lombardo Ontiveros in the gold medal match in Lima, Peru, and flew across the Atlantic Ocean to land in Austria just 15 hours before they were set to play.
“We will have enough time to properly celebrate our victory at the Pan-American Games later,” Marco said. “We went straight from the awarding ceremony to the airport and took a 17-hour flight here. We made it to the hotel barely on time for the technical meeting, then just had dinner and went straight to bed. We woke up early and then it was when we started really focusing on this tournament.”
The seven matches they played within the last week and the long trip, however, didn’t stop them from posting a major upset on their debut as they ousted Italian Olympic silver medalists Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai 21-19, 12-21, 15-12 on their first match on Pool G.
“Our bodies are tired, but our minds are strong and we know that we can win matches and advance by playing smartly,” Esteban added. “Our second set wasn’t good at all, but we managed to reboot for the third one and play much better. Playing in a tournament like this is a massive challenge. Every match will be tough and it won’t get any easier from now on. We know that anything can happen, but if we remain positive, we have a good chance.”
This, however, was not the first time the Grimalts landed in the Austrian capital from a long trip fresh from winning a historical gold medal for their country. Last season, Marco and Esteban also played in Vienna two days after winning a World Tour three-star event, the first-ever for a Chilean tandem in the international scene.
“I feel like this last week of July has typically been a good date for us,” Marco joked. “Next year the Olympics are supposed to be played during this time of the year so I can hope we can continue getting good results on it. But for now, we just want to rest and prepare for our next match here.”