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'Happy tears': Aussie beach volleyballers dig deep to claim silver


Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar have collected Australia’s first Olympic medal in beach volleyball since 2000, but it is silver rather than gold.

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The pair lost to the USA’s April Ross and Alix Klineman in their Tokyo Olympics gold-medal match.

Ross and Klineman prevailed 21-15 21-16 on Friday, taking 43 minutes to cap a dominant tournament in which they only dropped a single set.

Clancy and Artacho del Solar were forced to settle for silver as they collected Australia’s first Olympic medal in the sport since Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst’s unforgettable gold on Bondi Beach.

“So many emotions attached to this,” Artacho del Solar said.

“It still stings, (also) happy tears.

“A lot of it is a reminder of the amazing journey we’ve had and how resilient we were.”

Clancy added “we go from being super proud to feeling a bit low”.

“Because obviously it’s still a loss and we really wanted to get gold,” she said.

“But Alix and April were just better than us today.”

The duo, who made their Olympic debuts at Rio 2016 with different partners, trailed a remarkable path to their gold-medal decider that included a quarter-final boilover against Canada’s reigning world champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes.

Clancy, the first Indigenous player to represent Australia in the sport, grew up more than 200 kilometres from the ocean in rural Queensland.

Artacho del Solar, who was born in Peru and shifted to Sydney at age 11, and Clancy both cite Sydney 2000 as a pivotal moment in their life.

For Clancy, a proud Wulli Wulli and Goreng Goreng woman who excelled at athletics and netball before discovering indoor volleyball at high school, it was being glued to the TV for Cathy Freeman’s 400m triumph.

For Artacho del Solar it was an inspirational postcard, signed by Cook and Pottharst, sent to her family in Peru.

The Australians were outgunned by Ross and Klineman in a rematch of the 2019 world championships semi-final.

Clancy and Artacho del Solar were under the pump early, trailing 7-2 in the opening set.

Australia won the next two points but couldn’t make further inroads on the Americans’ buffer, eventually confronting the difficult challenge of trying to save six set points.

Artacho del Solar saved one but her ensuing serve went wide, meaning Ross and Klineman took the first set in 20 minutes.

Australia started the second set with more composure and aggression, winning the first two points before their opponents surged to a 10-2 lead.

Clancy and Artacho del Solar rallied again, trailing 16-12 to create some doubt in Ross and Klineman’s minds.

But they once again were left with too much work to do, saving two of six match points before Artacho del Solar’s serve went wide and ended the contest.

Ross’ gold medal comes after collecting silver (London 2012) and bronze (Rio 2016) with different partners, while it was Klineman’s first Olympics after she switched from indoor to beach volleyball in 2017.

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