Paris, France, June 18, 2008 - With seven players and three teams with previous Olympic Beach Volleyball experience competing here Wednesday in the men's SWATCH FIVB World Tour qualifier at the US$600,000 Henkel Grand Chelem, only four of the 13 competitors with Summer Games' experience advanced to the Main Draw.
Being played on six sand courts at the Champs de Mars within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower, a total of eight tandems earned spots in Thursday's opening "money" rounds for the fourth Henkel Grand Chelem. The event also features women's play where 32 of 48 pool play matches were played Wednesday.
Of the three teams with previous Olympic experience from Argentina, Norway and Portugal, none advanced from the Henkel Grand Chelem qualifier, including Joao Brenha and Miguel Maia. The Portuguese pair, who placed fourth in the 1996 and 2000 Summer Games before finishing ninth in 2004, was eliminated in a two-set first-round match by 21st-seeded Yaroslav Koshkarev and Serguei Prokopiev of Russia.
The Russians also won their second match to advance to the Henkel Grand Chelem along with second-seeded Patrick Heuscher/Sascha Heyer of Switzerland, sixth-seeded Jian Li/Shun Zhou of China, seventh-seeded Ahren Cadieux/Mark Heese of Canada, eighth-seeded Martins Plavins/Aleksandrs Samoilovs of Latvia, 13th-seeded Stein Metzger/Mark Williams of United States, 14th-seeded Eugenio Amore/Riccardo Bizzotto of Italy and 17th-seeded Adrian Gavira Collado/Inocencio Lario of Spain
Of the eight qualifying teams, players with Athens 2004 Olympic experience with different partners are Heese, Heuscher, Metzger and Williams. While Heese (1996) and Heuscher (2004) won Olympic bronze medals with John Child and Stefan Kobel, respectively, the Americans are the "odd" couple after competing in Athens for different countries.
Educated like Metzger at UCLA in the United States, Williams played in the 2004 Summers Games for Australia as he and Julien Prossser dropped a three-set third-place match to the Huescher and Kobel. Metzger and Dax Holdren placed fifth after being eliminated in the quarter-finals by Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos. The Brazilians eventually captured the gold medal by defeating the Swiss in the semi-finals and Spain's Javier Bosma/Pablo Herrera for the Athens title.
With no teams in the qualifier, France's Main Draw entries are the Ces brothers (Andy and Kevin), Fabien Dugrip/Gregory Gagliano and Guilherm Deulofeu/Yannick Salvetti. Led by Dugrip and Gagliano (774 points), all three teams are ranked among the top 33 pairs on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour point's list.
The men's Henkel Grand Chelem "money" rounds begin Thursday as the semi-finals for both genders being played Saturday with the medal matches Sunday. Each gold medal team will shares the $43,500 first-place prizes for the second of six SWATCH FIVB World Tour Grand Slam events in 2008.