Men's competition, Carolina
From 9 June To 13 June 2004

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Carolina Hosts First International Event Since 1996
CAROLINA, PUERTO RICO, June 7, 2004 - For the first-time since October 1996, Puerto Rico will host a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event as the Olympic qualifying process for the Beach Volleyball competition for the 2004 Athens Games continues.

The US$180,000 Carolina Open, presented by GlaxoSmithKline, starts here Wednesday (June 9) at 2 p.m. with the first of two days of Qualification Tournament action to determine the final nine berths in the 32-team Main Draw. The double-elimination Main Draw starts Friday with 40 matches to advance 16 teams to Saturday's rounds.

Another 18 matches will be played Saturday with four teams advancing to Sunday's semi-finals and medal matches. The "final four" tandems will be competing for $70,000 in prize money with the winning team will share the $27,000 for capturing the gold medal.

Brazilians captured the 1994 (Roberto Lopes/Paulao Moreira) and 1996 (ZeMarco de Melo/Emanuel Rego) Carolina championships. Francisco Alvarez and Juan Rosell of Cuba, the 2003 Pan American Beach Volleyball champions, won the 1995 title.

Host Puerto Rico has placed three teams in the Main Draw, including Ramon Hernandez and Raul Papaleo, who are currently ranked 19th on the Olympic qualifying list after Puerto Rico after placing 17th last week in Portugal. Hernandez and Papaleo also earned the silver medal at the 2003 Pan Am games in the Dominican Republic last August.

Other Puerto Rican teams in the Main Draw are the teams of Osualdo Barraras/Antonio Rondon and Willie De Jesus/Amaury Velasco. Eight other teams from this Caribbean island country will also compete in the Qualification Tournament starting Wednesday.

Another interesting "twist" for this week's event will be the competition between two men's teams from Africa that are seeking their continent's berth in the Athens Olympic Games. Mario Silva and Miguel Xisto of Angola are currently listed 24th for the final Olympic berth on the provisional qualifying list.

Silva and Xisto have compiled 202 points for their eight best SWATCH-FIVB World Tour finishes since January 2003. South Africa's Colin Pocock and Gerson Rorich are also in the Main Draw and have compiled 114 points for four qualifying events. Both teams are expected to improve their Olympic-qualifying point totals this week.

After the Carolina Open, the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour moves to Europe for the final three Olympic qualifying events in Switzerland, Germany and Norway. The beach volleyball competition at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games will be played August 14-25.