Commonwealth teams savour World Tour milestone


The men's 2017 Sydney event podium featuring teams from France, Canada and the United States.

Lausanne, Switzerland, November 22, 2020 - Three years ago this week, teams from the Commonwealth of Nations captured men’s and women’s gold medals at the same event for the first time when Canadians Grant O’Gorman/Ben Saxton and Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy of Australia topped a 2017 podium in Sydney on November 25.

For O’Gorman and Saxton, the Sydney appearance on Manly Beach was their first together at an FIVB event as the pair joined compatriots John Child/Mark Heese (Berlin 1996) and Josh Binstock/Sam Schachter (Paraná 2014) as the third Canadian men’s team to win an FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour gold medal.

Artacho del Solar and Clancy’s Manly title was the pair’s second of six World Tour podium-topping finishes, after capturing their first FIVB gold medal a month earlier in 2017 at Qinzhou, China. By winning in Sydney, Artacho del Solar and Clancy joined compatriots Natalie Cook/Kerri Pottharst (Sydney 2000 Olympics) and Nicole Laird/Becchara Palmer (Sydney 2019 Open) in winning a World Tour gold medal on home sand.

Led by Sydney 2000 Olympic gold medal winner Dain Blanton of the United States, six beach volleyball Olympians celebrate birthdays during the November 22-28 time period. Blanton, who turns 49 on Saturday, teamed with Eric Fonoimoana to win the Olympic title 20-plus years ago on Bondi Beach for his first of two FIVB gold medals.

Three-time World Tour gold medallist and Rio 2016 Olympian Karla Borger of Germany turns 32 today (November 22) followed by a 50th birthday on Tuesday for Switzerland’s Paul Laciga, a six-time FIVB winner and two-time Summer Games participant (2000 and 2004) with his brother Martin.

Stretching for the Mikasa is Paul Laciga of Switzerland.

Three-time Cuban Olympians Tamara Larrea Peraza and Dalixia Fernandez Grasset celebrate their 47th and 43rd birthdays on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. The Cubans, who placed ninth together at the Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Summer Games, join Americans Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh Jennings (2004, 2008 and 2012), Child/Heese (1996, 2000 and 2004) and Portugal’s Joao Brenha/Miguel Maia (1996, 2000 and 2004) as the only pairs to compete in three Olympics together.

Tamara Larrea Peraza (left) watches as Cuban partner Dalixia Fernandez Grasset reaches for the ball.

Petr Benes, who placed 17th at the London 2012 Olympics with Premysl Kubala, turns 46 on Friday.

Premysl Kubala (left) watches a reception for Czech Republic partner Petr Benes.

Here is a look at the FIVB World Tour gold medal winners for the November 22-28 time period.

November 24
In 1996, Shelda Bede and Adriana Behar of Brazil won the Jakarta Open. It was the second of 31 FIVB World Tour wins for the team.

Adriana Behar watches as her Brazilian partner Shelda Bede is in action.

November 25
In 2017, O'Gorman and Saxton won the Sydney Open. It was the first and only FIVB World Tour win for the team.
In 2017, Artacho del Solar and Clancy won the Sydney Open. It was the second of six FIVB World Tour wins for the team.

Selfie for Sydney women's medal winners from China, Australia and Austria.

November 27
In 2005, Marcio Araujo and Fabio Luiz Magalhaes of Brazil won the Cape Town Open. It was the third of 11 FIVB World Tour wins for the team.

Interviewing legendary Brazilian Fabio Magalhaes (left) and Marcio Araujo.