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

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Russians Keep Olympic Hopes Alive
STAVANGER, NORWAY, July 2, 2004 - After losing their first match here Friday to Dain Blanton and Jeff Nygaard of the United States in the men's US$360,000 ConocoPhillips Open, Russia's Roman Arkaev and Ditmitri Barsouk rebounded with two elimination wins to keep their Olympic chances alive.

Seeded 18th in the 32-team Main Draw after winning two SWATCH-FIVB World Tour Qualification Tournament matches Wednesday and Thursday, Arkaev and Barsouk are within 60 points of tying for the 22nd and final spot for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

With a guaranteed 13th-place this week, Arkaev and Barsouk have now compiled 938 Olympic qualifying points for their best eight finishes on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour since the start of the process in January 2003. The Russians face seventh-seeded Julien Prosser and Mark Williams in one of four opening elimination matches Saturday morning

With the final two berths in the 24-team men's Beach Volleyball field for Athens going to the host country and a representative from Africa continent, Canadians John Child and Mark Heese currently reside in the 22nd spot with 998 points after placing 17th this week. Kristjan Kais and Rivo Vesik of Estonia also placed 17th Friday to improve their Olympic qualifying point total to 962 points.

Friday's "big" winners were the teams of 22nd-seeded Dax Holdren/Stein Metzger of the United States and 26th-seeded Niklas Rademacher/David Klemperer of Germany as each posted a pair of upset wins.

Both teams entered this week's SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event after placing 25th last week in the Germany Grand Slam event in Berlin. The Germans now face second-seeded Mariano Baracetti and Martin of Conde of Argentina Saturday while Holdren and Metzger challenge third-seeded Franco Neto and Tande Ramos of Brazil.

Top-seeded Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos, the defending ConocoPhillips Open champions play eighth-seeded Eric Fonoimoana and Kevin Wong of the United States in their first match Saturday. Fourth-seeded Sascha Heyer and Markus Egger of Switzerland face fifth-seeded Todd Rogers and Sean Scott of the United States in the other match in the third-round of the winner's bracket.

Other opening elimination matches Saturday have the 15th-seeded Blanton/Nygaard facing 25th-seeded Kjell Goranson/Tarjei Skarlund of Norway, sixth-seeded Andrew Schacht/Joshua Slack of Australia playing 20th-seeded Francisco Alvarez/Juan Rosell of Cuba and 13th-seeded Pedro Grael Brazão/Fred Souza of Brazil challenging 12th-seeded Andreas Scheuerpflug/Christoph Dieckmann of Germany.

With the women's "final four" set for Saturday in the third of five-straight mixed gender events on the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, the men's competition concludes Sunday when the final two teams compete for the $27,000 first-place prize.