Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bitchy Beach Volleyball in Beijing


Andrezza "Rtvelo" Martins signals* to her partner at a recent event

They've been busing in Chinese spectators to fill out the stands at many of the Olympic events that remain - worryingly for the sponsors - spectator free. As expected, drawing a crowd for the ladies Beach Volleyball match between Andrezza "Rtvelo" Martins & Cristine "Saka" Santanna of Georgia with Natalia Uryadova and Alexandra Shiryaeva from Russia was a cinch - for all the right and wrong reasons.

The games have a long history of throwing up matches with competitors facing off from countries at each other's throats (think Russia and Hungary's tussle in the pool at the Water Polo semi-final in 1956) so perhaps it was a surprise to see the girls step under the net and hug each other before play began.

The twist here is that Martins and Santanna (the names are a bit of a giveaway) were both born and bred in Brazil and encouraged paid to take up Georgian citizenship to advance the sport's cause there a couple of years ago. Well, England has a cricket captain who's South African and when it comes to sport, some competitors will swap their passport faster than David Blaine can slip a card up his sleeve, if it means more opportunity to shine in the spotlight.

lab_image_volleyball04 The good natured start soured shortly after the Russians lost, sulking to reporters that they hadn't lost to Georgia but Brazil. Further comments suggesting that their opponents would struggle to name the President of their adopted nation appeared to rankle Santanna and Martins who have adopted Georgian names for their team. Santanna is "Saka" and Martins is "Rtvelo". Together Saka Rtvelo are the Georgian words for, you guessed it, Brazil. I'm kidding, I meant Georgia.

* Does my bum look big in this?

1 comment:

Leigh said...

I do love a good view! Nice!