August 14 - The Visa FIVB Beach Volleyball International at Horse Guards Parade, the test event for London 2012, has been hailed as a "wonderful experience" for the sport as Brazilian pair Lili Maestrini and Angela Vieira claimed the in title in today's final.
Lili and Vieira proved victorious in the final match against Americans April Ross and Jennifer Kessy, having knocked the second Brazilian team - made up of Taiana Lima and Vivian Danielle da Conceicao - into bronze medal position earlier in the day.
"Everything was really nice," said Vieira after clinching the title before a 1,500 crowd that include Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood and Britain's five-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave.
"Thank you to everyone who helped.
"I am thankful for the whole test of the Olympic event.
"It was pretty good, perfect.
"I have never been here before and I love London, love everyone and everything."
The praise came despite the event starting amid the chaos of the riots that hit London last week and which forced organisers to curtail first day of competition last Tuesday (August 9) so players, officials and spectators could leave the area before nightfall.
The emergency Government meeting chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron to find a plan to deal with the riots was held within a few yards of the court in Whitehall.
But the event remained unaffected by the problems.
"This week at Horse Guards Parade has been invaluable and a wonderful experience for the FIVB," said Vicente Araujo, the FIVB Beach Volleyball Commission secretary who was the technical delegate for the tournament.
"The Visa FIVB Beach Volleyball International has provided the perfect opportunity to test a range of issues and situations which will stand us in good stead come Games time.
"The media and spectator interest has been impressive and of course the spectacular setting of Horse Guards Parade has been inspirational, while the legacy of the sand, which will be used to create new beach volleyball courts, is also very important to us.
"The response of the athletes concerning the event has been very encouraging and thanks to the great crowd support, they have had a glimpse of what it will be like next year.
"Of course there are some areas where will continue to liaise and fine tune with LOCOG but now after this extremely successful week we can focus on London 2012 with great confidence."
The close of beach volleyball signalled the end of a flurry of successful test events staged during the past week including sailing, marathon swim, road race and badminton.
"The atmosphere was fantastic throughout the whole week," said David Luckess,the Head of Sport Competition at London 2012.
"Athletes, spectators and volunteers all talked about the amazing setting and the great time they all had.
"We successfully tested the field of play, including the sand, results systems, lighting and sport presentation.
"Bringing beach volleyball in this format to London is a first for the capital, the fact that it was in this iconic venue added to the appeal."
An added bonus was that British pair Lucy Boulton and Denise Johns made it to the bronze medal match but ended their competition in fourth, closely followed by the other Britons Shauna Mullin and Zara Dampney in joint fifth.
"I thought both Great Britain teams played really well and I think we can look forward to seeing them keep on improving, they are on the up and up," said Ross, the American who was part of the American duo that finished second.
"I think with the home crowd they had that extra motivation.
"I think we'll see good things from them in the next couple of tournaments."
Mark Wasilewski, Park Manager for St James's Park and Green Park, The Royal Parks, hailed the event as being truly historic.
"The Royal Parks has been working closely with LOCOG and we're really pleased with how plans have progressed," he said.
"This historic location within St James's Park has hosted a wide range of events – including a year long European jousting contest in the 16th century – however I think that in 2012 this location is going to be one of the most memorable."
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