LONDON (Reuters) - The brilliance of Brazil’s Ricardo Santos ensured hosts Britain suffered another defeat in the men’s beach volleyball tournament despite passionate support at the Horse Guards Parade on Monday.
“We never had so much support. They are pushing you, it felt like the stands might come down. The support was huge and we lost. I can’t imagine what happens if we win,” Britain’s Steve Grotowski said after he and John Garcia-Thompson were beaten 2-0 (21-17, 21-12) by Ricardo and Pedro Cunha.
Ricardo, known as ‘The Wall’ because of his strength in defense, has a complete collection of Olympic medals, winning gold in Athens, silver in Sydney and bronze in Beijing.
“We lost to the best team in the world. Ricardo could be the best player of the tournament,” Garcia-Thompson told reporters.
Ricardo also won plaudits from his team mate Cunha.
“No matter who they support - us or the opponents - Ricardo loves this. That’s why he is legend. He helps me out all the time. He supports me with great blocking and setting,” Cunha said following a second successive victory.
Grotowski and Garcia-Thompson remain winless.
Their conquerors in the British team’s opener, Canada’s Martin Reader and Joshua Binstock, also suffered a setback in Pool F but did at least enjoy the music.
“It’s not as hot as other venues, but it’s the best by far. The music choice and sound system are great,” Reader said, following a 2-0 (21-14, 21-18) loss to Norway’s Tarjei Skarlund and Martin Spinnangr.
“I love the electronic music they play here and they tend to jam on court and we take energy from that as well,” he added.
Music from Robbie Williams to the Beach Boys is blared out by loudspeakers during the matches with only brief interludes while points are contested. Even the team which rakes the sand try to keep in time with the beat.
Switzerland’s Sascha Heyer, at 40 the oldest player in the tournament, and his 25-year-old protege Sebastian Chevallier, booked a place in the knockout round with a closely contested 2-1 (28-26, 18-21, 15-13) win against Russia in pool C.
The Swiss team appeared to throw away a match point when Heyer’s serve was flagged long by the line judge but the call was controversially overruled by Australian referee Catriona Tweedie, prompting a furious response from the Russians.
“I was really surprised. I thought the ball was out. The referee, she called it in. It was a really tough match,” Heyer told reporters.
Russia’s Konstantin Semenov received a yellow card for his heated protests.
“We are not happy at all with the decision of the judge. The ball was out. We play at a high level, they should not make these mistakes,” Semenov said.
He and partner Serguei Prokopiev have now lost both their matches.
Latvia’s flamboyant Aleksandrs Samoilovs, known as the Lion King because of his wild mane of hair, and his partner Ruslans Sorokins reached the knockout stage of the tournament with a 2-0 (21-16, 21-10) victory against South Africa in Pool D.
The Latvians narrowly defeated a Polish pair in their opener and now appear to be gathering momentum.
“It was much better than in the previous match against Poland. That had too much emotion and stress,” Samoilovs told reporters.
Reporting by Nigel Hunt, editing by Justin Palmer