Men's competition, Stavanger
From 1 July To 4 July 2004

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Norway Hosts Next-to-Last Olympic Qualifying Event
STAVANGER, NORWAY, June 28, 2004 - The men's SWATCH-FIVB World Tour returns to this southwestern Norwegian port city for the sixth-straight season this week as the Olympic qualifying process nears its end for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

The US$360,000 ConocoPhillips Open will feature mixed gender competition for the third-straight year after only staging men's the first three seasons. The women's Qualification Tournament begins Tuesday (June 29). The men's qualifier begins Wednesday as both divisions will be advancing a minimum of eight teams each to the Main Draws.

With same first-place prize money for both genders at $27,000 per team, the women's Main Draw starts Thursday and concludes with the semi-finals and medal matches Saturday. The men's "money" rounds start Friday and ends Sunday with the "final four" matches.

With this being the ninth men's stop on the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour schedule, the following events have taken place so far this season:

*Two-straight All-European finals the past two weeks in Switzerland and Germany after having only one in the first 153 "open" SWATCH-FIVB World Tour events.

*Men's gold medals for teams from the host country in the last two events. Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel of Switzerland shared the first-place check in front of their home crowd in Gstaad two weeks ago. Last week, Germany's Markus Dieckmann and Jonas Reckermann delighted the Berlin fans with a gold medal win.

*Individual "open" SWATCH-FIVB World Tour titles for the Swiss and German players along with Pablo Herrera of Spain and Pedro Cunha of Brazil.

*After winning under-21 FIVB World Championships at the start of this decade, Herrera (2002) and Cunha (2001 and 2003) have teamed with veteran players to capture SWATCH-FIVB World Tour titles. Herrera and Javier Bosma won the international stop last month in China while Cunha and Pará Ferreira were the winners earlier this month in Puerto Rico.

*Veteran Brazilian players Franco Neto and Tande Ramos teamed to win their first SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event together in South Africa. Of the eight men's events this season, five have been first-time wins for teams, including titles for the Spaniards, Cunha/Pará, the Swiss and the Germans.

*For the first-time in 100 "open" men's events, a team from Brazil was not on the podium as the Smart Grand Slam in Berlin featured German, Swiss and Argentinean medal winners. The last time for a non-Brazilian men's medal winning team was 1996 in Portugal as the South Americans failed to advance a team to the "final four."

*Non-Brazilian back-to-back men's gold medal matches for the first-time since 2001. This year's non-Brazilian finals in Switzerland and Germany matched the 2001 Switzerland (United States vs. Switzerland) and Germany (Australia vs. Switzerland) finals.

*After eight events in 2003, only two countries won men's gold medals (Brazil, 7, and the United States, 1). In 2004, four countries have won men's titles - Brazil (5), Germany (1), Spain (1) and Switzerland (1).

*The 2004 season features men's players from the five major regions of the world that represent the Olympic rings - Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

PAST STAVANGER MEN'S PODIUM PLACEMENTS

Year - Gold Medal / Silver Medal / Bronze Medal
1999 - Jose Loiola/Emanuel Rego, Brazil / Guilherme Marques/Pará Ferreira, Brazil / ZeMarco de Melo/Ricardo Santos, Brazil
2000 - Ze Marco/Ricardo, Brazil / Marcio Araujo/Benjamin Insfran, Brazil / Loiola /Emanuel, Brazil
2001 - Emanuel/Tande Ramos, Brazil / Martin Laciga /Paul Laciga, Switzerland / ZeMarco/Pará, Brazil
2002 - Emanuel/Tande, Brazil / Loiola/Ricardo, Brazil / Patrick Heuscher, Stefan Kobel, Switzerland
2003 - Emanuel/Ricardo, Brazil / Mariano Baracetti/Martin Conde, Argentina / Julien Prosser/Mark Williams, Australia