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

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Veteran Canadian Team Back Together
CAROLINA, PUERTO RICO, June 10, 2004 - After playing in the first five events this season with different partners, Jody Holden and Conrad Leinemann have joined forces again this weekend to help secure possibly another spot for Canada in the Beach Volleyball competition at the 2004 Athens Games.

The US$180,000 Carolina Open will be the 86th international start together for Holden and Leinemann partnership, but the first this season as the Canadians started the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour campaign with Ahren Cadieux and Richard Van Huizen, respectively.

After a fifth-place finish in Portugal last week, two-time Canadian Olympians John Child and Mark Heese are ranked 21st on the Athens qualifying list with 854 points from their best eight finishes on the international tour since January 2003. Child and Heese captured the Olympic bronze medal in 1996 before placing fifth in 2000. This week's stop will be the pair's 108th SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event.

"It was something that Conrad and I talked about a lot at the end of last season," said Holden about the decision to start 2004 with different partners. "Given our results last year with only two top nine finishes, we decided that it was time to change things up."

After playing together for eight seasons highlighted by a 1999 Pan American gold medal and a ninth-place in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, Holdren and Leinemann thought the switch would create two "strong" teams for Canada. However, the results did not materialize. Holden and Cadieux did not qualify for a Main Draw in four starts together this season. Leinemann and Van Huizen advanced to the "money" rounds in the first event this season in Brazil, but failed to qualify for the Main Draw in the next four events.

"It wasn't that we played that poorly," said Holden of the early 2004 results, "it is more that the international competition has really improved over the years and the Qualification Tournaments are extremely tough since they are single-elimination with no margin for error."

Playing in 10 events together last season, Holden and Leinemann competed in the required eight events to become Olympic-eligible. The Canadians enter this weekend with 754 points and are 48 points behind the 22nd tandem (Peter Gartmayer/Robert Nowotny of Austria) on the Olympic qualifying list.

Twenty-four teams will compete in the men's Beach Volleyball competition in Athens. Holden and Leinemann must finish in the top 22 since host Greece and the continent of Africa receives the final two berths. A 13th or better placement in the Carolina Open will push Holden and Leinemann over the 800-point mark on the Olympic list.

In addition to the ninths last season, the Canadians also finished 17th four times, 25th once and did not get out of the qualifier in two starts. "We both want to qualify and represent our country again at the Olympics," Leinemann added. "We still have a chance and look forward to the next five qualifying events."

Holden and Leinemann open play Friday morning as the 32-team Main Draw field competes for the $27,000 first-place prize in the double-elimination. But for the veteran Canadians, their first goal in the Carolina Open is to win a couple of matches Friday to secure at least a 13th in this week's event.