Disappointing bronze for beach volleyball duo
Norway’s top-ranked pair Mol and Sørum rallied to win the Beach Volleyball Major Series
Jo Christian Weldingh
Anders Mol and Christian Sørum won Norway’s first World Championship medal in beach volleyball in 17 years with a bronze after beating the American duo of Tri Bourne and Taylor Crabb 2 sets to 1 on July 7 at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Hamburg, Germany.
Norwegian athletes are usually best on snow or ice, with skis or skates on their feet, but after amazing progress over the last year, Mol, 22, and Sørum, 23, were one of the absolute favorite pairs heading into the championship, and it was a big disappointment that they were unable to reach the final. The Norwegian duo is ranked No. 1 in the world and went into the championship with hopes of becoming the youngest world champions ever and winning Norway’s first-ever gold medal. Their opponents in the bronze final, Americans Bourne and Crabb, are ranked 21st, and the Russian gold medal winners, Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy, are ranked second.
Even though they would have preferred to play for the gold medal rather than the bronze, the duo felt satisfied with their performance after the bronze final.
“It has been an adventure from Day One, even though our performances have varied throughout the championship,” Mol said in the post-match interview. “That’s what it’s like playing in tournaments like this. I’m proud of what we did here.”
The medal is Norway’s second men’s volleyball world championship medal of all time and the first since Vegard Høidalen and Jørre Kjemperud won the bronze in 2001.
The Norwegians struggled in the first set and ended up losing 19-21 but made a great comeback in the second set, winning 21-15. In the third and deciding set, the Norwegians took control from the first serve and were able to create a five-point lead early on. The Americans were never able to catch up and the set ended 15-10 in the Norwegians’ favor.
“This was a tough match, in part because it was difficult to forget our loss in the semifinal, which was very disappointing,” Mol said. “Despite our disappointment, we had to push through and focus on today’s match, something we seemed to struggle with in the first set, but we found a way to win in the end.”
Mol and Sørum were unable to take home the gold medal, so Norway still hasn’t won an official world championship, but in 1995, two years before the first official world championship, Jan Kvalheim and Bjørn Maaseide became world champions after winning the World Series.
Beach Volleyball Major Series
The pair got back on track, winning gold in the Beach Volleyball Major Series in Gstaad, Switzerland, July 8-13. They beat Bourne and Crabb 15-21, 21-11, 15-8 in a quarterfinal July 12, then beat Brazil’s Gustavo Albrecht Carvalhaes and Saymon Barbosa Santos 21-14, 21-17 to reach the semifinals, where they defeated 21st-ranked Brazil’s Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Evandro Gonçalves de Oliveira Jr., 21-18, 21-14 in 40 minutes on July 13. Schmidt and Oliveira had stopped Mol and Sørum’s 23-match winning streak in the final of the Polish Open in Warsaw, June 16. The Norwegians took care of business, downing 10th-ranked Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands in the final 21-17, 21-15 on July 13, in a match that took only 34 minutes. They became the first repeat Gstaad champions since 2006 and became the fourth fastest men’s pair to reach 100 career victories, accomplishing the feat in their 124th World Tour match.
Jo Christian Weldingh grew up in Lillehammer, Norway, and lives in Oslo. He has a bachelor’s degree in archaeology from the University of Oslo and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from BI Norwegian Business School.
This article originally appeared in the July 26, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American.