Women's competition, Stavanger
From 29 June To 3 July 2004

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Aussie's Clarke & Gerlic Make It Interesting
STAVANGER, NORWAY, July 1, 2004 - Just when you thought that Angela Clarke and Kylie Gerlic were finished this weekend, the Australians came back here Thursday to post a pair of wins during the opening Main Draw rounds of the Conoco Phillips Open to keep their Olympic hopes "alive."

Fortunate to be in the 32-team Main Draw of the US$360,000 event as a "lucky loser" due to a late withdrawal from the event, Clarke and Gerlic scored wins Thursday over tandems from the Czech Republic and Mexico to improve their Olympic qualifying point total.

Competing against Summer Lochowicz and Kerri Pottharst for a second Australian berth in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, Clarke and Gerlic erased a 36-point finish from their best eight finishes since January 2003 on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour and replaced it with a guaranteed 144-point for this week's event.

Pottharst, who captured the gold medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games with Natalie Cook, and Lochowicz dropped their two matches Thursday to teams from Japan and Germany to be eliminated from the competition. Despite the early exit, the seventh-seeded Pottharst and Lochowicz still improved their Olympic total to 1,032 points. The pair still needs one more finish to become Olympic-qualified. The eighth and final Olympic qualifying event for women on 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour is next week in Mallorca.

Cook and Nicole Sanderson have secured the first Aussie berth in the Athens Games. The winner of the competition between the remaining two Australian teams must also finish among the top 23 qualifiers. Teams from Bulgaria, Cuba, France, Japan, Mexico and Norway are still in contention for one of the final six spots for the August Games.

Also making a big gain in the Olympic process was 10th-seeded Nila Ann Hakedal and Ingrid Torlen. The Norwegian pair scored wins over teams from Germany and Japan Thursday to guarantee a 144-point finish in the ConocoPhillips Open. Hakedal and Torlen now have 1,058 points for their best eight finishes.

In addition to the top four-seeded teams winning as expected, Thursday's other upset winners were Canada's Guylaine Dumont/Annie Martin and Renta Ribeiro/Shaylyn Bede of Brazil. The 12th-seeded Dumont and Martin scored a 21-16 and 21-19 win over fifth-seeded Dalixia Fernandez Grasset and Tamara Larrea Peraza. The Cubans had placed second last week in Germany.

Ribeiro and Shaylyn posted a pair of upsets by defeating eighth-seeded Andrea Ahmann and Jana Vollmer of Germany (21-17 and 21-11) and ninth-seeded Susanne Glesnes and Kathrine Maaseide of Norway (16-21, 21-16 and 16-14).

Friday's featured opening matches will have Ribeiro and Shaylyn challenging top-seeded Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs from the United States while Dumont and Martin play fourth-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca of Brazil. Third-seeded Annett Davis and Jenny Johnson Jordan of the United States meet Clarke and Gerlic with Hakedal and Torlen facing second-seeded Kerri Walsh and Rachel Wacholder of the United States.