(ATR) Katara Beach was bustling as 10 gold medals were awarded on the final night of competition at the ANOC World Beach Games in Doha.
The Qatar, U.S. & Indonesian mens beach volleyball teams pose together after the medal ceremony. (ATR)
The Qatari men’s beach volleyball team battled valiantly in front of a standing room only crowd, but ultimately lost the gold medal match to the United States 21-18, 26-24.
The atmosphere, fan enthusiasm and energy in the air at the volleyball match – which was attended by Qatari dignitaries and sports leaders – was the best seen of any event over the previous five days in Doha.
The Qatari silver medal performance was certainly a proud moment for the host nation, although the players were still quite dejected.
“It was very disappointing to reach the final in our home town and we couldn’t go home with the gold medal,” said Zead Benlouaer. “Still, I cannot take anything from the U.S. team, they played very well.”
The Qatari fans chanted and sang songs adding to the home court advantage.
“We enjoyed it and I hope the fans did too,” Benlouaer said. “Any player needs some boost, some adrenaline, some crowd support to enjoy the game."
The crowd at beach volleyball final in Doha watched Qatar win its only medal. (ATR)
The silver medal was the lone medal for Qatar over the six days of competition in Doha.
U.S. player and coach Casey Patterson summed up the intensely competitive gold medal match and overall hoopla surrounding the final evening under the lights at Katara Beach.
“The stars aligned for this match – we needed Qatar in the finals and to play each other was a perfect scenario for this event to be successful,” said Patterson, who represented the U.S. at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“We had the crowds all week, but this was the best it’s ever been,” Patterson added. “This venue is incredible.
“The drama, the hype, everything was right where it needed to be, so it was cool tonight.”
The U.S. women's beach volleyball team also won gold, knocking off Brazil, 21-16, 21-9, earlier in the evening.
The 10 medals awarded on the final night of competition included all five team events: beach volleyball, soccer, handball, tennis and 3x3 basketball. All finals were contested at temporary stadiums all adjacent to one another along a jam-packed stretch of Katara Beach.
The beach soccer stadium was rocking with the announcers voice reverberating down the beach and into the nearby venues. The Russian Federation had no trouble with Brazil, winning the gold medal by a comfortable 9-3 margin. Spain nipped Great Britain in a close affair, 3-2, to capture gold in the women's tournament.
Brazil’s Rafaella Miller and Andre Baran won beach tennis mixed doubles. (ATR)
In beach tennis mixed doubles, Brazil’s Andre Baran and Rafaella Miller defeated a duo from France to strike gold.
“The people, the atmosphere was so good tonight,” Baran said. “Here in Doha there were many Brazilians. The feeling was amazing.”
In 3x3 basketball, Russia edged Brazil 21-19 to win the men’s gold medal, while France defeated the Netherlands 15-9 to win the women’s event.
Brazil won the men’s beach handball gold medal, while Denmark was victorious in the women's tournament.
Florian Gruber of Germany rode to victory in the men’s kitefoil racing event.
The U.S. volleyball veteran Patterson praised Qatar and its citizens for being a wonderful host.
“This country has been so inviting for us – maybe pushing the limit of the cultural balance with some of the sports.
“For them to do that and run such a tight knit event, I haven’t experienced anything like this that was done in such a short period of time.
“They can be very proud and we are honored to be a part of it.”
There was no official closing ceremony as part of the inaugural World Beach Games, however a closing night party was held for athletes at the Athletes Village.
Brazil won the most overall World Beach Games medals with 12, while Spain won the most gold medals with seven. With a strong performance on the final night, the U.S. finished with eight medals, including four gold. Italy also finished with four gold medals.
Written and reported by Brian Pinelli in Doha, Qatar
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