Brazil’s beach volleyball kingpins kick up a sandstorm to start in style | Helen Pidd

In a sport made for Rio, gold medal favourites Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt delighted locals with a stirring start to their campaign

It is one of the many things about the Olympics that doesn’t quite make sense: why is a landlocked country such as Austria into beach volleyball? It follows that the Brazilians go nuts for a sport that requires sun and sand and skimpy outfits – they even have the naming rights to the wax that keeps competitors’ private pelts in check. But Austrians? Their national anthem is called Land of Mountains, Land By the River. They climb up stuff. They ski down the other side. But apparently they also play beach volleyball.

Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst had the honour of christening the sand on the Copacabana on Saturday, playing the Italian duo, Alex Ranghieri and Adrian Carambula. Unfortunately, hardly anyone turned up to watch them lose 2-0. The 12,000-capacity grandstand was no more than 10% full when the men took to the court at 10am local time.

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