Women's competition, Mallorca
From 6 July To 10 July 2004

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Final Olympic Qualifier Increases Mallorca Competition
SANTA PONSA, MALLORCA, July 6, 2004 - For Kerri Pottharst, the extension of the Olympic Beach Volleyball qualifying process has been blessing for the Sydney 2000 gold medallist and her partner Summer Lochowicz.

Without this week's women's Mallorca Open, Pottharst and Lochowicz would have not played in the required eight events together to qualify for the Beach Volleyball competition. Originally scheduled as a men's event in September, the Mallorca Open was changed to a mixed gender stop to increase the number of Olympic qualifying events on the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour to eight for women and 10 for men.

"We are extremely pleased to have this opportunity to compete for a second Australian spot in the women's competition in Athens," said Pottharst, a two-time Olympic medallists with Natalie Cook as the pair captured the bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games before the Sydney 2000 gold on Bondi Beach.

"I am especially pleased that Summer will still have a chance to qualify for the Olympics," noted Pottharst, who turned 39 last month. "She has worked extremely hard to improve her game. Summer will be one of our hopes for the Beijing Games in 2008."

Pottharst and the 26-year old Lochowicz are not a lock for the Olympics as they first must compete in Mallorca starting Thursday in the Main Draw. With eight qualifying events to their credit and once they play their first Mallorca Main Draw match Thursday, Pottharst and Lochowicz will have 1,068 points to their credit.

With Cook and Nicole Sanderson the fifth-ranked team on the Olympic qualifying list with 2,750 points, Australia could secure a second spot if they place among top 23 teams as the continent of Africa fills out the 24-team field for Athens.

Currently, Angela Clarke and Kylie Gerlic are the second-ranked Australian team on the list with 1,108 points. To improve their score in Mallorca, Clarke and Gerlic must place 17th or higher. A 17th would add 12 points to their total with each additional advancement adding 36 more points.

If Clarke and Gerlic don't improve their current point total, Pottharst and Lochowic must finish at least 13th to gain a 1,140 to 1,108 edge. If Clarke and Gerlic place 13th, Pottharst and Lochowicz must place ninth and so on.

But, Australia is not guaranteed a spot as two teams from Norway and one tandem each from Japan and Mexico rank ahead of Clarke and Gerlic, who are currently 22nd on the list and ahead of the Bulgarian Yanchulova sisters (Lina and Petia).

For the Norwegian teams of Susanne Glesnes/Katherine Maaseide (1,196 points) and Nila Ann Hakedal/Ingrid Torlen (1,130), both pairs must place 13th or better in Mallorca to improve their totals. Japan's Chiaki Kusuhara/Ryo Tokuno (1,192) need to place ninth or better to improve their score while Mayra Garcia and Hilda Gaxiola (1,152) of Mexico need a 13th or better in Mallorca to increase their total.

The Mallorca Open started Tuesday morning with women's qualifying. The Main Draw opens Thursday with the women's "final four" matches being played Saturday. The winning team shares the $27,000 first-place prize.

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

PAST MALLORCA WOMEN'S PODIUM PLACEMENTS

Year - Gold Medal / Silver Medal / Bronze Medal
1999 - Laura Bruschini/Annamaria Solazzi, Italy / Anabelle Prawerman/Cecile Rigaux, France / Eva Celbova/Sona Novakova, Czech Republic
2002 - Adriana Behar/Shelda Bede, Brazil / Misty May/Kerri Walsh, United States / Ana Paula Connelly/Tatiana Minello, Brazil