Songkhla, Thailand, April 17, 2017 – Australians Louise Bawden/Taliqua Clancy avenged last week’s loss to Chinese Wang Fan/Yue Yuan to capture the women’s crown, as Iranians Rahman Raoufi/Bahman Salemiinjehboroun smashed Indonesia’s dreams to underline supremacy in the men’s event at the SMM Asian Senior Beach Volleyball Championships.
The four-day tournament came to a complete conclusion on Monday at the Songkhla’s pristine Samila Beach, which was packed with volleyball enthusiasts and provincial residents who thronged into the competition site to watch the Asia’s top beach spikers pit their expertise on the final day to vie for the men’s and women’s titles.
Iran’s Raoufi/Salemi, who captured gold medal here at the 2014 Asian Tour Samila Songkhla Open but took a disappointing 9th place at the last week’s Pak Bara Master in Satun, survived a sturdy challenge from Candra Rachmawan/Mohammad Asfiya to beat the determined Indonesians in hard-fought three-set thriller 22-20 12-21 15-12 in exhausting 50 minutes to clinch the men’s title.
The loss of Candra/Asfiya on Monday was another upset tale for Indonesia as the duo also made it to the final of the last week’s Pak Bara Master, only suffering a bitter loss at the hands of Qataris Jefferson Santos Pereira/Cherif Younousse in the showdown.
“First, I would like to thank Thai people for the great hospitality and supports. This tournament is one of the best events in Asian Tour and Asian Championships as well. I really enjoyed playing here. This match was very important for us because it was the gold-medal match. I think we prepared well for this match. We tried to keep our brain fresh and stay focused in every point because our opponents were very strong. We just wanted to fight until the last point and we are very happy to win the Asian title here. We look forward to coming back next year,” said Rahman Raoufi after the final match.
In the third-place playoff earlier, Chris McHugh, who partnered Isaac Kapa to hand Australia the 2016 Asian title on home soil in Sydney and claim gold medal at the inaugural Pak Bara Open last year, teamed up with Damien Schumann this time to claim bronze medal following a sensational 23-21 21-14 victory over Qataris Julio Nascimento/Ahmed Tijan. The Aussies also took bronze at the last week’s Pak Bara Master in Satun.
Meanwhile, the women’s showdown saw Louise Bawden/Taliqua Clancy regain the Australia’s pride lost on home soil at the previous Asian Championships last year. The Australian second seeds stunned Chinese Wang Fan/Yue Yuan, gold medallists at the last week’s Pak Bara Master in Satun and bronze medallists at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Korea, 21-19 21-17.
The convincing win of Bawden/Clancy not only avenged the last week’s loss to Wang/Yue at the Pak Bara Master final, but also avenged the Australia’s loss of Nicole Laird/Mariafe Artacho del Solar to China’s Chen Xue/Xia Xinyi in the women’s showdown at the previous Asian meet in Sydney last year.
“The last week’s loss has given us a huge motivation to keep winning and fight them again this time. I think we did a very good job today. We wanted to fight although we learned well that the Chinese are very strong. We lost to them last week. So, we had to bring our best to take the title back. It was great that we finished on top of the podium this time,” a happy Bawden said.
Earlier, Australians Phoebe Bell/Nicole Laird had to be content with bronze medal after powering past Indonesians Dhita Juliana/Putu Utami in dramatic three sets 21-8 17-21 15-8 in the third-place playoff.
In the awards presentation, the men’s champions Rahman Raoufi/Bahman Salemiinjehboroun from Iran received gold medal and US$7,500 cash prize, while silver medallists Candra Rachmawan/Mohammad Asfiya from Indonesia and bronze medallists Chris McHugh/Damien Schumann from Australia took home US$6,000 and US$4,500 respectively.
In the women’s category, champions Louise Bawden/Taliqua Clancy from Australia claimed gold medal plus US$7,500 cash, with silver medallists Chinese Wang Fan/Yue Yuan and bronze medallists Australians Phoebe Bell/Nicole Laird pocketing US$6,000 and US$4,500 respectively.
Songkhla Governor Songpol Swastham and Somporn Chaibangyang, president of the Thailand Volleyball Association, jointly presided over the awards presentation and the closing ceremony. AVC Secretary-General Mr Shanrit Wongprasert was also in attendance as guest of honour.
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