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

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Second-ranked Brazilians Notch Puerto Rico Wins Friday
CAROLINA, PUERTO RICO, June 11, 2004 - With the competition for the final berths in the men's Beach Volleyball competition at the 2004 Athens Games, the progress of the teams at the top have gone unnoticed, especially for Brazilians Benjamin Insfran and Marcio Araujo.

Marcio Araujo was sidelined for the first three SWATCH FIVB World Tour events in Brazil, South Africa and China due to an appendix operation while Benjamin played in the first two events with Harley Marques before skipping the Asian event.

When Marcio Araujo returned to the sand, he and Benjamin finished seventh in May's Serbia and Montenegro Open before regaining a spot on the podium with a third-place finish last week in Portugal. "Things were not right," said Marcio Araujo about the first event this season, "I was very tentative."

Winners of seven gold medals in their previous 38 international events with Benjamin, Marcio Araujo said his play was "much better in Portugal. I had no problems today due to the hot and humid weather. It is good to be back playing and I am lucky that I had the appendix surgery before the season."

With their two wins Friday, the Brazilians will face ninth-seeded Ramon Hernandez and Raul Papaleo Saturday morning. The Puerto Ricans upset eighth-seeded Dain Blanton and Jeff Nygaard of the United States 21-19 and 22-20 after trailing in both sets 19-18. The Brazilians have split two matches with Hernandez and Papaleo with the Puerto Ricans winning the last meeting in Norway last June.

"I think I am back to full-strength, said Marcio Friday after teaming with Benjamin to win two matches over teams from Puerto Rico and Canada. "I hated to miss the opening event in Brazil, but I am lucky that I had the surgery before the start of season instead of having problems this summer when we are in Europe."

Benjamin and Marcio Araujo rank second on the Olympic qualifying list with 3,038 points and need to place need to place third or higher this weekend to improve their total score for their best eight finishes on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour since the start of the process in January 2003.

"Right now, we just need to work on our game as the competition is extremely tough at each event," Marcio Araujo noted. "We eagerly anticipate the Olympics and look forward to competing for a medal with our Brazilian rivals Emanuel and Ricardo."

Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos, who lead the Olympic qualifying with 3,824, are missing this week's event to prepare for the final four qualifying events in Switzerland, Germany, Norway and Mallorca. While appearing in all five gold medal matches this season, Emanuel and Ricardo have won three titles this season and eight overall since forming their partnership in 2003.

Emanuel and Ricardo earned $237,000 for 10 events in 2003 with five tournament titles, including the World Championship Gold Medal last October in Rio de Janeiro where they defeated Dax Holdren and Stein Metzger of the United States in the final. Marcio Araujo and Benjamin placed third in the Rio to end the season sharing $173,500 for 10 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour events with three titles.

A total of 16 countries are represented in the 32-team Main Draw as 16 teams will advance to Saturday's rounds. The "final four" teams will be decided after Saturday's 18-match schedule. Sunday morning's semi-final winners will compete later in the afternoon for the $27,000 first-place prize.