Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal were eliminated in the London Olympics beach volleyball quarterfinals on Monday night, 2-1, to Latvia's Janis Smedins and Martins Plavins. The Americans won the first set (21-19), but lost the second (18-21) and third (11-15) to the Latvians at Horse Guards Parade.
The second set marked the first time the American duo had dropped one in the London Games. The last gasp for Gibb and Rosenthal was down 12-8 in the third set, where they rallied for two points. But Latvia won the next three points to effectively put the match away.
"To play these guys and beat them on centre court in front of 15,000 people is amazing," Plavins added. "We have to play like that again and not be scared and be confident."
For Gibb and Rosenthal their quarterfinal exit matches their result from Beijing 2008, but they were disappointed with how they had gone out.
"I didn't see their defence and usually I'm better at picking up on it," Gibb said. "We nearly came back and we had a few opportunities. I thought we would come back the whole way through, but I'm not sure what went wrong."
Gibb and Rosenthal were one of the most inspiring Team USA stories in any sport heading into London.
Gibb was suspended for a doping violation, but later discovered it was due to abnormal hormone levels caused by testicular cancer.
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He had surgery, and then he and Rosenthal scrambled to qualify for the London Games as a team after finishing fifth in Beijing.
The loss follows the huge upset of defending gold medalists Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser in the Round of 16; they lost to Italy in straight sets (21-17, 21-19). "A lot of people say they're the next Phil and Todd," Rogers said after the match, via NBC. "Well, they just out-Phil-and-Todded us."
The last, and previously only, time the U.S. failed to medal in men's beach volleyball was at the 2004 Athens Games. Before that, the Americans had won the first two gold medals in the sport, which began Olympic competition in 1996.
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