Men's competition, Mallorca
From 7 July To 11 July 2004

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Same Story, Different Gender
SANTA PONSA, MALLORCA, July 6, 2004 - "On the bubble" is not necessarily the spot to be entering this week's US$360,000 Mallorca Open, but Canadians John Child and Mark Heese hope to play through process to improve their position for the 2004 Sydney Athens Olympic Games.

For the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games Beach Volleyball bronze medallists, Child and Heese are currently 22nd on the men's qualification list, the last spot since host Greece and the continent of Africa are guaranteed a berth in the 24-team men's competition in Athens.

"At least we do not have to play in the qualifier like some other teams," said Heese, who will have his 35th birthday August 15 when the Athens competition begins. "It is hot and steamy here and playing two-to-three matches against very competitive opponents Wednesday and Thursday would have an affect on us."

Both Child and Heese have been plagued with injuries since the start of the Olympic qualifying process in January 2003. Fifth-place finishers in the Sydney Olympics, the Canadians have compiled only 998 points for their best eight finishes.

Teams from Russia (Roman Arkaev/Dmitri Barsouk) and Estonia (Kristjan Kais/Rivo Vesik) trail Child and Heese by 24 and 36 points, respectively, entering the 10th Olympic qualifying for men on the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour schedule. Arkaev and Barsouk need to place 17th or better this week to improve their current 974-point score. Both Child/Heese and Kais/Vesik need to place 13th or higher to improve their score.

"Right now, we must play with confidence and not worry what the other teams are doing" said the 37-year old Child. "We'll be watching the action, but first, we must take care of our task to post a good finish. Since Sydney, the injury bug has really plagued us. We'll give it our best shot and see what happens."

The focus on the Canada-Russia-Estonia competition is one storyline for this weekend, but four teams from Norway, France, Puerto Rico and Austria (ranked No. 18-21) still could lose their top 22 spots if they don't improve their Olympic qualifying totals.

Norway's Iver Horrem and Bjorn Maaseide are 18th at (1,076 points) followed by the teams of Stephane Canet/Mathiew Hamel of France (1,056), Ramon Hernandez/Raul Papeleo of Puerto Rico (1,052) and Robert Nowotny/Peter Gartmayer of Austria (1,030). All four teams must finish 13th or better or risk one of the tandems from Canada, Russia and/or Estonia passing them.

The fourth of five-straight mixed gender events, the Mallorca Open will start men's qualifying Wednesday with the Main Draw beginning Friday and the finals Sunday. The winning team shares the $27,000 first-place prize.

After the Mallorca Open, the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour concludes is string of mixed gender events with the annual stop in Marseille, France (July 13-18).

PAST MALLORCA MEN'S PODIUM PLACEMENTS

Year - Gold Medal / Silver Medal / Bronze Medal
1999 - Martin Laciga/Paul Laciga, Switzerland / Javier Bosma/Fabio Diez, Spain / Jan Kvalheim/Bjorn Maaseide, Norway
2001 - Emanuel Rego/Tande Ramos, Brazil / Martin Conde/Mariano Baracetti, Argentina / Franco Neto/Roberto Lopes, Brazil
2002 - M. Laciga/P. Laciga, Switzerland / Marcio Araujo/Benjamin Insfran, Brazil / Emanuel/Ricardo, Brazil
2003 - Marcio Araujo/Benjamin, Brazil / Markus Dieckmann/Jonas Reckermann, Germany / Conde/Baracetti, Argentina