Men's competition, Klagenfurt
From 28 July To 1 August 2004

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New Olympians Seek A1 Grand Slam Best
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Fédération Internationale de Volleyball press@fivb.org Fax: +41-21 345 35 45
KLAGENFURT, AUSTRIA, July 29, 2004 - For any Austrian team competing in the A1 Grand Slam, it is "special" since the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour Beach Volleyball stop has developed into the country's top sporting attraction.

For Austrian Peter Gartmayer, "it is more than special, it is all about the result" as he and Robert Nownoty compete for Austria as the ninth-seeded team in the eighth annual A1 Grand Slam, presented by Nokia. The SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event runs through Sunday where the winning team shares the $40,500 first-place prize.

"We what to prove that we are more than just another host country entry competing before family, friends and fans," said Gartmayer after his team's convincing 21-11 and 21-19 win here Thursday morning over 24th-seeded John Child and Mark Heese, who won the bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

With the knee injury to Clemens Doppler, Gartmayer and Nowotny are now considered Austria's No. 1 team after achieving a berth in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games with a "better than expected season. At the start of the year, we were not thinking about Athens. We just wanted to get better with each tournament and let everything happen," Gartmayer added.

Doppler and Nikki Berger started the season as Austria's No. 1 Olympic hopefuls, but the pair has been plagued with knee injuries. First it was Berger with knee problems, and two weeks ago in France, Doppler injured his right knee that forced him to miss the US$540,000 A1 Grand Slam.

Berger is playing this week with Florian Gosch as the 10th-seeded team in the 32-team Main Draw. Their first Beach Volleyball match together will be Thursday against 23rd-seeded Julien Prosser and Mark Williams of Australia.

"We are disappointed for Clemens," Gartmayer continued. "He is one of the up-and-coming players on the SWATCH Tour. We hope he can comeback in time for Athens. Last season, Nikki and Clemens were one of the top teams in the world. This year has been a struggle for them due to injuries."

While Berger and Doppler posted seven of the best eight finishes in 2003 to qualify for Athens, Gartmayer and Nowotny had five of their top eight placements in 2004, including a fourth in March at the South African event in Cape Town for their best-ever finish on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour.

Gartmayer and Nowotny are competing in their 47th SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event. They are playing in their sixth A1 Grand Slam with their best previous Klagenfurt finish being a 17th last season. "We hope to erase that stat and win at least two matches this week," Gartmayer noted. "It will be tough as this is the last event prior to the Olympics and everyone is fired up to play."

The Austrian's face eighth-seeded Sascha Heyer and Markus Egger of Switzerland in their second match Thursday with the winner guaranteed a ninth this weekend. The Swiss pair opened with a 25-23 and 21-11 win over 25th-seeded Kristjan Kais Rivo Vesik of Estonia.