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

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Men's Olympic Beach Volleyball Opens Saturday

Athens, Greece, August 13, 2004 - The third edition of Olympic Beach Volleyball begins here Saturday with Sydney 2000 gold medallist Dain Blanton of the United States headlining the opening day men's field along with two of Europe's top teams and the 2001 FIVB World Champions Mariano Baracetti and Martin Conde of Argentina.

After Friday's technical meeting Friday at the Olympic Beach Volleyball Centre in the municipality of Kallithea within the Faliro Coastal Zone Olympic Complex, half of the men's 24-team field will be in action Saturday with six matches during the three sessions at the 10,000-seat venue.

"Anxious to get started," is how Blanton described the mood for he and his partner Jeff Nygaard, who was an indoor Olympian for the United States when Americans were claiming the gold medals at the 1996 and 2000 Games in Atlanta and Sydney, respectively.

Blanton teamed with Eric Fonoimoana to capture the Sydney title by defeating Ze Marco de Melo and Ricardo Santos of Brazil for the gold medal to give the United States its second beach title as Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes won the inaugural Olympic Beach Volleyball crown in 1996.

A Scandinavian match-up between Norwegian's Vegard Hoidalen and Jorre Kjemperud against Bjorn Berg and Simon Dahl opens Saturday action at 9 a.m. in the first of two Pool D men's matches during the opening session. European champions Markus Dieckmann and Jonas Reckermann play Ramon Hernandez and Raul Papaleo in the second match at 11 a.m.

With Blanton and Nygaad playing the final match Saturday at 11 p.m. Saturday against Julien Prosser and Mark Williams of Australia, Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel play the first men's Pool E match at 3:30 p.m., against Canadians John Child and Mark Heese, the 1996 Atlanta bronze medallists.

Baracetti and Conde are the favourites to capture the top spot from Pool F as they open Olympic competition at 5:30 p.m. Saturday against Joao Brenha and Luis Maia of Portugal, the fourth-place finisher at both Atlanta and Sydney. Thanassis Michalopoulos and Pavlos Beligratis from host Greece challenges Colin Pocock and Gershon Rorich of South Africa at 7 p.m. Saturday

Here are the series head-to-heads since 2002:

9 a.m. - Hoidalen/Kjemperud, Norway vs. Berg/Dahl, Sweden, Berg/Dahl lead 1-0
11 a.m. - Dieckmann/Reckerman, Germany vs. Hernandez/Papaleo, Puerto Rico - first meeting
3:30 p.m. - Heuscher/Kobel, Switzerland vs. Child/Heese, Canada - Heuscher/Kobel lead 2-1
5:30 p.m. - Baracetti/Conde, Argentina vs. Brenha/Maia, Portugal - Baracetti/Conde lead 4-0
7 p.m. - Michalopoulos/Beligratis, Greece vs. Rorick/Pocock, South Africa, first meeting
11 p.m. - Blanton/Nygaard, United States vs. Prosser/Williams, Australia, Blanton/Nygaard lead 1-0