Men's Olympic Games, Athens GREECE
From 14 August To 25 August 2004

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Top-Seeded Brazilians Seek Validation
Athens, Greece, August 25, 2004 - For Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil, it is about "validation" here Wednesday evening as the No. 1-ranked team in the world seeks the men's gold medal in Beach Volleyball at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

What are confronting the 2003 FIVB World Championships and the winners of 11 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medals the past two seasons are Spain's Javier Bosma and Pablo Herrera, who qualified for the Athens Summer Games as the 16th-ranked team on the Olympic qualifying list.

No. 1 versus No. 16 on the Olympic ranking list means Emanuel and Ricardo should be "heavy" favourites to win Brazil's first-ever men's Beach Volleyball gold medal after posting a pair of ninths at the 1996 Atlanta Games and a second and ninth at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

The Brazilians are favoured to win the top spot on the Olympic Beach Volleyball Centre podium, but Bosma and Herrera enter the Wednesday's match with two-straight wins over Emanuel and Ricardo this past May in China, including a gold medal victory.

"On paper we are the favourites," Emanuel noted after his win with Ricardo over fifth-seeded Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel of Switzerland 21-14, 19-21 and 15-12 in 60 minutes in Monday's second semi-final match. "Bosma has always played well in big matches and Herrera can make a difference due to his play at the net."

The Spaniards won for the sixth-straight time Monday by scoring a 21-18 and 21-18 win in 45 minutes over Julien Prosser and Mark Williams of Australia to advance to the gold medal match at the 10,000-seat stadium that saw Misty May and Kerri Walsh of the United States capture the women's gold medal by defeating Brazil's Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede.

"The pressure and spotlight will be on us Wednesday as everyone in the Beach Volleyball world will be watching if we can validate our ranking and our performances the past two seasons. The men's field is very competitive with any of a number of teams capable of winning. Bosma and Herrera are on the top of their game and I think we have also played well against some quality opponents."

Ricardo now gets another shot at a gold medal after losing the Sydney 2000 Olympic crown with Ze Marco de Melo to the United States' Dain Blanton and Eric Fonoimoana. Emanuel, the winningest player in SWATCH-FIVB World Tour history with 47 gold medals, 90 podium placements (including tonight's finish) and 93 "final fours" in 127 international starts, has finished ninth in the past two Olympics in Atlanta and Sydney with Ze Marco and Jose Loiola, respectively.

For Bosma, the gold medal opportunity highlights his career as he placed fifth in both the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games with different partners. His most cherished Olympic moment was with Fabio Diez in the Sydney Olympics where they scored a 17-16 win to eliminate Emanuel and Loiola, the top-ranked team entering the 2000 games.

Herrera started playing with Bosma last season and the 22-year old sensation has already claimed a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour title. Herrera won the FIVB's under 21 title in 2002 with Raul Mesa.