Lausanne, Switzerland, April 30, 2018 - Before staging events in Cambodia, the Philippines, Turkey and the United States for the busiest week in the 31-plus season history of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, teams from Austria and Russia claimed international beach volleyball gold medals on Sunday at the second annual Langkawi Open in Malaysia.
In the final two of eight matches on Sunday at the Langkawi Open, Simon Fruhbauer/Jorg Wutzl of Austria captured the men's gold medal before Ksenia Dabizha/Daria Mastikova of Russia topped the women's podium. The $10,000 event was the 14th men's stop on the 2017-2018 FIVB calendar and the ninth World Tour stop for women this season.
After posting a 2-0 (21-13, 21-14) semifinal win in 28 minutes over 12th-seeded qualifiers Paul Becker/Eric Stadie of Germany, the 13th-seeded qualifiers Fruhbauer and Wutzl captured Austria's first-ever FIVB World Tour men's or women's gold medal by defeating 10th-seeded qualifiers Petr Bakhnar/Taras Myskiv of Russia 2-1 (21-15, 18-21, 15-13) in the 44-minute Langkawi finale.
Austria had claimed five men's and four women's FIVB silver medals in World Tour history before Fruhbauer and Wutzl's podium-topping performance Sunday. Austria’s last title match appearance on the international circuit was last August at the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Vienna where Brazilians Evandro Goncalves and Andre Loyola defeated Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst for the gold medal 2-0 (23-21, 22-20) in 57 minutes.
The eighth-seeded Dabizha and Mastikova also netted two wins on Sunday in Langkawi by posting a 2-1 (21-12, 19-21, 15-10) semifinal win in 75 minutes over third-seeded Phoebe Bell/Jessyka Ngauamo of Australia and a 2-0 (21-10, 29-27) gold medal victory in 34 minutes over 13th-seeded qualifiers Katja Stam/Julia Wouters of the Netherlands.
The gold medal was only the third for a Russian team at a FIVB World Tour event since the start of women’s play in 1992. The last women’s gold medal for the Russian women was secured by Ekaterina Khomyakova and Evgeniya Ukolova on home sand in Anapa when the pair defeated Teresa Mersmann and Isabel Schneider of Germany in the July 2013 finale.
With more than a half-million US dollars in prize money to be awarded, the four tournaments this week create the busiest weekend in the history of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. A total of 54 countries have entered 323 men's and women's teams for the four beach volleyball tournaments.
With all four stops being first-time events on the FIVB World Tour, the $300,000 Huntington Beach Open will start first with preliminary rounds on Tuesday in southern California on the "Surf City USA" courts. The $150,000 Mersin Open in Turkey begins on Wednesday with qualification followed by the $10,000 Manila Open on Thursday in the Philippines and the $25,000 Anchor Beach Volleyball Carnival 2018 on Friday in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.