04.08.2019 - Vienna, Austria
Only three women’s teams have appeared in gold medal matches of Beach Major Series tournaments in 2019 and Carol Salgado and Maria Elisa Antonelli were one of them. The Brazilians stepped on the podium at the Gstaad Major three weeks ago and followed it up with another silver medal at the A1 Major Vienna presented by Swatch to end a grueling six-week road trip on high note.
“Right now it feels great to have these silver medals around our necks,” Carol said. “To play a final in this crowded stadium was a real privilege. It’s been long six weeks on the road for us, easily the toughest stretch of the season, and to come to the last tournament and to be able to go all the way from the qualification to the final, it’s amazing. I feel we didn’t play our best against the Canadians but they deserve all the credits for it. Now we just want to go home and be with our families for a bit.”
The back-to-back Major Series gold medal matches appearances helped the Brazilians to close the gap against their opponents, but they are still behind in the country’s Olympic race for the Tokyo 2020 Games as they have now 4,580 points while Agatha Bednarczuk/Duda Lisboa have 5,910 and Ana Patrícia Ramos/Rebecca Cavalcanti have secured 5,750.
Carol and Antonelli earned important points in the Major events, but a 17th-place finish at the World Championships and a country-quota setback in Espinho have hurt their aspirations.
“These two silver medals in Majors will certainly help us a lot, but we didn’t start the season really well and to compete for an Olympic spot in Brazil we’ll need to be more consistent than that,” the blocker added. “We were a little bit unfortunate with our draw in the World Champs and to have to play a country-quota in Espinho with little rest after playing the final in Gstaad, but this is what is takes to qualify. We have no more room for bad results.”
Two factors, however, could help the veterans on their chase for Olympic qualification. While Agatha/Duda and Ana Patrícia/Rebecca have both ten finishes already, Maria and Carol have played in just nine events so far and will have a chance to close the gap in Moscow in two weeks.
Probably most important, though, is the fact that they are not expected to play in any other qualifiers this season, which means they’ll start tournaments in the same position as both of their opponents.
“It almost seems like we found our best volleyball at the middle of the season,” Antonelli added. “The points we won win these two silver medals should be enough to get us out of qualification for the reminder of the season, so I think we’ll be in a better position to get there results and we’ll fight until the end.”