Men's competition, Klagenfurt
From 28 July To 1 August 2004

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Olympian Maaseide Lives for another Beach Volleyball Day
KLAGENFURT, AUSTRIA, July 28, 2004 - As the men's Qualification Tournament for the US$540,000 A1 Grand Slam, presented by Nokia, ended here Wednesday, it almost brought a finish to Bjorn Maaseide's Beach Volleyball career on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour.

Seeded second in the 32-team men's Al Grand Slam qualifier, Maaseide and Iver Horrem survived a three-set scare as the Norwegians scored a 17-21, 21-15 and 16-14 win over 22nd-seeded Bram Ronnes and Richard Kogel of Netherlands to earn one of eight Main Draw berths for Thursday's opening "money" rounds in the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event.

The A1 Grand Slam men's qualifier also featured three other teams that have qualified for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games like Maaseide and Horrem. Sixth-seeded Bjorn Berg and Simon Dahl of Sweden, who defeated a team from China to advance to the Main Draw, was the only other Olympic-qualified team for Athens advancing from the qualifier.

Olympic teams suffering final elimination losses Wednesday were fourth-seeded Raul Papaleo Perez and Ramon Hernandez of Puerto Rico and seventh-seeded Stephane Canet and Mathieu Hamel of France. Teams from the Netherlands defeated both tandems in three-sets as the Puerto Ricans dropped their match to 23rd-seeded Jochem DeGruijter and Gijs Ronnes while the French bid was ended by 13th-seeded Max Backer and Emiel Boersma.

Also earning Main Draw berths Wednesday were third-seeded Kristjan Kais and Rivo Vesik of Estonia, fifth-seeded Pará Ferreira and Pedro Cunha of Brazil, 10th-seeded Julius Brink and Kjell Schneider of Germany and 12th-seeded Conrad Leinemann and Ricard Van Huizen of Canada, who eliminated Spain's Javier Bosma and Javier Luna. Bosma has also qualified for the Athens Games, but his regular partner Pablo Herrera is skipping this week's event.

"That was close," said Maaseide after the 56-minute match. "We came very close to losing it. I would hate to end my SWATCH-FIVB World Tour career by losing my final match in a qualifier. In a way, my whole season with Iver has been made up of close matches."

Maaseide, who announced earlier this month in his hometown of Stavanger his retirement from the sport, has been instrumental in building Beach Volleyball on-and-off the sand. The 36-year old Norwegian played his first match in July 1990 and the A1 Championships will be his 135th FIVB-sanctioned event over the past 14 seasons as he is tied with Martin Conde of Argentina for the most events played internationally.

"This game has brought me a lot of joy and excitement," said Maaseide, who will be competing in his third Olympics in Athens. "I just did not what to have it end with a loss in the qualifier. We have been playing better as of late, but still have to compete hard in each match. As one of the most-experienced player on the tour, I have seen it grow to the point that qualifying is almost as tough as the Main Draw."

Married with four children, Maaseide has won seven gold medals in his career (all with Jan Kvalheim to tie for 14th on the all-time list) along with posting 19 podium placements and 28 "final four" finishes. Maaseide also ranks eighth in all-time SWATCH-FIVB World Tour earnings at $581,905.