Women's Olympic Games, Athens GREECE
From 14 August To 24 August 2004

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Women's Olympic Beach Volleyball Finale Features Top Two Tandems
Athens, Greece, August 24, 2004 - The teams of Misty May/Kerri Walsh of the United States and Adriana Behar/Shelda Bede of Brazil proved that the Beach Volleyball ranking process for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games was correct as the top two-seeded teams will play for the gold medal here Tuesday evening at 9 p.m.

Playing at the 10,000-seat Olympic Beach Volleyball Centre that has proved to be the "hottest" ticket in town, the two teams will meet for the 21st-time on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour as the top-seeded Americans hold a 13-7 edge in the series that dates make to 2001.

Tuesday's finale is also rematch of the 2003 FIVB World Championships in Rio de Janeiro last October where May and Walsh scored a 21-19 and 21-19 win over Adriana and Shelda, who captured the worlds in 1999 and 2001.

The two teams have meet three times this year with the Americans winning each time, including gold medal wins in Fortaleza (Brazil in March, 21-10 and 21-19) and in Gstaad (Switzerland in June, 26-28, 21-17 and 15-10).

The second-seeded Adriana and Shelda enter the Olympic finale seeking to reverse their results from the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games were they dropped the gold medal match to Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst on Bondi Beach.

The Olympic gold medal match is also the first for the United States women as one of the world's powers in Beach Volleyball failed to medal in both the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Games. The American men, who placed fifth and 19th in this Olympics, won the gold medals in both Atlanta (Karch Kiraly/Kent Steffes) and Sydney (Dain Blanton/Eric Fonoimoana).

Brazil has now claimed five Olympic women's Beach Volleyball medals as they captured the top two spots in 1996 followed by the silver and bronze in Sydney. Jackie Silva and Sandra Pires netted the Atlanta title by defeating Monica Rodrigues and Adriana Samuel in the All-Brazil final. Pires and Samuel teamed to capture the bronze in Sydney.

May and Walsh advanced to the gold medal match by scoring a 21-18 and 21-15 win in 41 minutes over fourth-seeded Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs in an All-American semi-final. May and Walsh now hold a 7-2 edge over McPeak and Youngs in SWATCH-FIVB matches.

Adriana and Shelda helped erase the memory of their gold medal defeat at the Sydney 2000 Games by scoring a 21-17 and 21-16 win over Cook and Nicole Sanderson in 42 minutes. Adriana and Shelda have now won six-straight matches over the Aussie pair.

The Athens 2004 Olympic Games is also the 116th "open" SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event for women. Exactly half of the finals have been Brazil against the United States. The Americans lead the gold medal head-to-head with Brazil 32-25. May and Walsh have played Adriana and Shelda in 10 FIVB gold medal matches and have won seven times.

The Australia-United States bronze medal match will open Tuesday's action at 7:30 p.m. The men's Olympic medal matches will be played Wednesday evening as Javier Bosma and Pablo Herrera of Spain challenge top-seeded Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil for the gold medal.