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

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FIVB President Addresses Beach Volleyball Olympians
Athens, Greece, August 13, 2004 - With three women's Olympic gold medallists among the overflowing in the crowd here Friday in the media centre conference room at the Faliro Coastal Zone Beach Volleyball Centre, Dr. Rubén Acosta addressed the 2004 Olympians before the start of the competition.

All three gold medallists are playing with different partners as each seek an Olympic medal for the third-straight time since the start of Beach Volleyball competition in 1996 in Atlanta where Sandra Pires and Jackie Silva of Brazil won the sport's first-ever Olympic gold medal.

Pires returns for her third-straight Olympics with Ana Paula Connelly as the pair will be watching Saturday's opening women's matches while 2000 Sydney Olympic gold medallists Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst take the sand with different partners. Pires won the bronze medal at the Sydney Games with Adriana Samuel.

Pottharst will be the first women's gold medallists on the sand Saturday as she and Summer Lochowicz challenge Tian Jia and Wang Fei of China at 10 a.m. in a Pool F match. Vasso Karadassiou and Efi Sfyri, Greece's top team plays the final Pool F match at 10 p.m. against Mayra Garcia and Hilda Gaxiola of Mexico.

"It will be strange playing without Natalie in an Olympics," said Pottharst, who teamed with Lochowicz at the start of the 2004 season to edge Angela Clarke and Kylie Gerlic for the second Australian women's berth. "I think Natalie and I accomplished a lot by medalling twice in the Olympics when no one really gave us much of a chance. I hope my experience and Summer's enthusiasm will give us a chance to reach the elimination rounds."

Cook qualified for Athens with Nicole Sanderson, who missed a chance for a spot in Sydney after suffering a knee injury that required knee surgery at the start of the 2000 season when she was playing with Angela Clarke.

Cook and Sanderson play the Bulgarian Yancholva sisters (Lina and Petia) in their first match Saturday at 4:30 p.m. after Germany's Stephanie Pohl and Okka Rau face Lu Wang and Whenhui You of China in the opening Pool E match at 12 p.m.

Saturday's other opening women's matches features Pool D where Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs of the United face Susanne Glesnes and Kathrine Maaseide of Norway at 8 p.m. Nicole Schnyder of Simone Kuhn of Switzerland faces Guylaine Martin and Annie Martin of Canada at 2:30 p.m.

Schnyder and Kuhn are the 2004 European Champions after defeating Glesnes and Maaseide in the finals. Maaseide joins her brother (Bjorn) as Beach Volleyball Olympians for Norway as he competes for the third-time in the summer Games with Iver Horrem. Here are the series head-to-heads since 2002:

10 a.m. - Tian Jia/Wang Fei, China vs. Lochowicz/Pottharst, Australia, Tian Jian/Wang Fei lead 1-0
12 p.m. - Pohl/Rau, Germany vs. Lu Wang/Whenhui Young, China - tied 1-1
2:30 p.m. - Schnyder/Kuhn, Switzerland vs, Dumont/Martin, Canada - Dumont/Martin lead 1-0
4:30 p.m. - Cook/Sanderson, Australia vs. Yanchulovas, Bulgaria - first meeting
8 p.m. - McPeak/Youngs, United States vs. Glesnes/Maaseide, Norway, McPeak/Youngs lead 1-0
10 p.m. - Karadassiou/Sfyri, Greece vs. Garcia/Gaxiola, Mexico, Karadassiou/Sfyri lead 4-1