07.07.2019 - Hamburg
Oleg Stoyanovskiy stood on the cold center court sand, with a World Championship gold medal around his neck and was nervously eyeing where the exits were.
The 22-year-old was anxious because he had just spoiled 10,000 people’s day by becoming the youngest ever world champion.
“I think I’m safe while I’m still in the stadium,” he joked. “I don’t know when I can leave.”
Luckily the 6ft 9in serving machine from Russia could afford some more time on the court; let the disappointed German fans slowly trudge out of the Red Bull Beach Arena and absorb what he had just achieved.
“There are no words, I can’t describe it. I’m a world champion.”
One thing was missing, however. His father. He had booked a flight home for Saturday. On purpose, he didn’t want to jinx the biggest moment of his son’s young career.
“Before the competition started he already sorted a flight home before the final,” said Stoyanovskiy. “He wanted to watch it on television back home. I wanted to share this with him but I’ll be later. He’s in Moscow and we go to Gstaad so the celebrations will have to wait a little longer.”
When he finally was able to take a deep breath and reflect on what had just happened, Oleg paid tribute to his teammate, Viacheslav Krasilnikov, who had won bronze in Vienna two years ago.
“I’m happy for him more than anything because he was a little upset after the last World Championship – this is of course for him.
“He helps me a lot with all the fine details. He keeps me mentality fresh – he’s my mentor.”
The duo’s three-set win over Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler was the first time Russia had won the biggest prize in beach volleyball.
Krasilnikov’s eyes were flickering around the stadium in bewilderment rather than searching for the nearest exit to avoid those frustrated German fans.
Always a man of few words, the 28-year-old, and the “grandfather” of the team as Stoyanovskiy put it – need only a couple anyway to convey his emotions.
“I just don’t believe it. Maybe I have more words tomorrow.”
Eventually the crowds dispersed and Oleg and Viacheslav could escape the Arena they had conquered an hour before.
And on to Gstaad where they go again on Wednesday.