LONDON (Reuters) - Germans Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann won Olympic gold in the men’s beach volleyball by beating Brazilians Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti 23-21 16-21 16-14, becoming the first European team to claim the title.
The final was full of suspense, with the teams so closely matched, but it ended on a sour note with the referee calling out a Brazilian spike on a match point to declare the Germans the winners.
The Brazilians immediately contested the call, rushing to the referee and gesturing at him angrily while the Germans had already started their boisterous celebrations.
The Brazilians, who were pre-tournament favorites to win the gold, had saved two previous match points to draw level, and had the spike been called in they would have been level again, with both teams within two points of winning the tournament.
The referee stuck to his decision and the crowd booed for several minutes, in a sad end to a nail-biting final.
Brazil and the United States were the only two nations to have won gold in the men’s event until now. Those two nations plus Australia have also won all the golds in the women’s event since the sport made its Olympic debut in Atlanta in 1996.
Brink, 30, and Reckermann, 33, had long careers with different partners but they have enjoyed their greatest successes since they came together in 2009 when they won the world championship and the world tour.
Both were playing at their second Olympics but neither had won a medal before and it was their first Games together.
Emanuel, 39, was competing in his fifth Olympics. He won gold in Athens in 2004 and bronze in Beijing in 2008 with his former team mate Ricardo Santos.
Alison, 27, was appearing in his first Games. He and Emanuel have been playing together for three years and have been increasingly dominant on the world tour, winning the last world championship.
Editing by Alison Williams and Ken Ferris