Javier and Joaquin Bello’s journey at the Youth Olympic Games came to end with a 5th place finish, after they were edged out in the beach volleyball quarter finals by hosts Argentina.
Saved as the last match of the day in front of a partisan home crowd, the game lived up to its top billing. Having been narrowly defeated in three sets by the Argentinian pair of Amieva and Zelayeta the last time they met, the Bello brothers knew it was going to be a tough battle and the opening set turned into a titanic clash.
After the first few points were nip and tuck, Team GB’s Javier and Joaquin edged in front before being pegged back to 16-16 by the South Americans. Once again, the twins took the initiative and reached 20 points first but couldn’t seal the set. When the match was levelled at 20-20 the match became a monumental battle of wills to establish the 2-point lead to take the set.
Javier and Joaquin had the early opportunities to win the set, before defending a run of set points themselves. They had another couple of chances to take it before finally, the Argentinians forced victory 35-33.
Buoyant from winning the opening set, Amieva and Tarditti controlled the second set, gaining a lead they never relinquished to win the set 21-14 and progress through to the semi-finals.
Brilliant ambassadors for Team GB and the sport, the pair were gracious in defeat as they commented on Twitter: “Thank you to everyone for your support here and back home. And congratulations to Mauro, Bautista, Volleyball Argentina and their crowd, it’s been amazing!”
Although it didn’t end in a medal as they hoped, the Youth Olympic Games has been a brilliant achievement for Javier and Joaquin. Their performances for England secured their place at the Games, as they finished 5th in the CEV Youth Beach Volleyball Continental Cup Finals in June and earned them the right to represent Team Great Britain.
The pair proved their class on Argentinian sand as they cruised through the pool stages. In their opening match, they recovered from a set down to dominate Cuba to with 2-1 (19-21, 21-12, 15-8). Next up they swept aside Paraguay in little over half an hour, before only dropping 17 points as they beat Togo. In the knockout stages, the twins defeated Australia in the round of 16 to record a comprehensive victory.
To eventually lose out to a quality pair from Argentina was no shame at all. A lot will have hinged on that tight first set and on another day, it could have gone the other way.
There were lots of messages of support for Javier and Joaquin throughout their campaign and they continue to blaze a trail for young, aspiring beach volleyball stars in this country and be excellent role models for the sport. The defeat will hurt but they can reflect on a great achievement as they move onwards and upwards in their volleyball careers.
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