By RYAN PYETTE -- Winnipeg Sun
SYDNEY -- Another Canadian medal hope got baked on the beach Sunday.
Toronto's Mark Heese and John Child, the defending Olympic bronze medallists in beach volleyball, dropped their quarter-final match 15-13 to third-seeded Brazillians Ze Marco and Ricardo in a marathon 81 minutes at Bondi Beach.
With the loss, the sixth-seeded Canadian pair finish fifth.
"Certainly, we're a little disappointed we're going home without a medal," said the 33-year-old Child. "We knew these guys would probably be the toughest team to get past, and we got off to a real slow start, falling behind 4-0."
Slow is the perfect way to describe the tactics of the Brazillian duo, who elevated wasting time to a new art form against the Canadians.
The match would've easily been 20 minutes shorter if the six-foot-seven Ricardo didn't roll around soccer-style in the sand every few minutes with imaginary ailments or partner Ze Marco didn't demand his sunglasses be cleaned every time Canada won serve.
The Brazillians were penalized once for delaying play.
Tempers flared early in the match when Ricardo claimed Heese hit his knee on purpose when both went up for the ball.
Ricardo, who's only played the sport for four years but is nonetheless one of the most fearsome spikers in the world, whined to the referee, trying to get a foul called, and Child took exception.
Verbal volleys were launched through the net, and the barking continued throughout the game.
"Mark barely touched him, he took a dive," said Child. "I didn't appreciate the way they were going to the ref without a just complaint. And then they came back, won the next point, and let us know about it.
"I don't think that's proper beach volleyball etiquette."
Heese just laughed at the big guy's antics.
"It was a dive, it was pretty soccer-style, but it's a good play if you can get the ref to give you the point," he said.
Later in the match, with the Canadians rolling, Ricardo missed a dig and went down like he was stabbed in the stomach with a Croc Dundee-sized knife. After the doctors administered to him, Brazil took a five-minute injury time out.
"I don't know if it was a tactic, but he got up the next play and hit a hard winner," shrugged Child.
Ricardo never showed any ill effects of stomach pain the rest of the match.
After trailing as much as 10-4, the Canadians fought back, tying the match at 11, and actually taking their first lead on a Heese ace when the game was 72 minutes old.
The lead didn't last long.
The Canadians gave Brazil the ball right back the next play with their ninth service fault. Using well-placed tap shots, Ze Marco and Ricardo closed out the match.
Fittingly, they laid in the sand to celebrate.