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Beach volleyball Britons bow out

August 1, 2012 18:54 pm

Britain's John Garcia-Thompson and Steve Grotowski bowed out of the men's beach volleyball competition at Horse Guards Parade with a third straight preliminary phase loss.

The home favourites gave the Westminster crowd plenty to cheer in their contest with Tarjei Viken Skarlund and Martin Spinnangr, but in the end it was the Norwegian pair who prevailed in straight sets, 22-20 21-13, to condemn Britain to last place in Pool F.

Britain needed to win on Wednesday to stay alive in the competition but this latest defeat brings an end to their participation at the first hurdle.

Grotowski and Garcia-Thompson nevertheless have more than held their own on the biggest stage in the sport over the past few days, a fact even more remarkable given that Britain's male beach volleyballers have not received any Government funding since the end of 2010.

Grotowski and Garcia-Thompson defeated this Norwegian pair in their only previous meeting, and harboured genuine aspirations of securing victory on the Olympic stage at the third attempt.

As in their defeats to Canada and Brazil, the opening set was a tight affair, and when Britain moved ahead at 11-10 on a Grotowski spike, the crowd sensed it might be their afternoon.

The two teams remained locked together all the way to the business end of the first set, and when Garcia-Thompson's spike saved set point at 19-20 it seemed Horse Guards might erupt. The home side looked as though they had saved another at 20-21, but somehow Spinnangr's bump just crept over the net.

The agony of the first set loss evoked unwanted memories of their first two matches, when similarly spirited efforts ended in a narrow loss that gave way to an even heavier defeat in the second set. And before long that same pattern began to emerge as the Norwegians opened up immediate daylight.

Two aces in a row brought Horse Guards to its feet and the score to 8-11, but the Scandinavians remained the more aggressive at the net with Spinnangr attacking well.

When seven match points were brought up everyone inside the arena knew the game was up, and defeat was sealed when Skarlund blocked at the net to send Norway into the knockout round.

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