Men's Olympic Games, Athens GREECE
From 14 August To 25 August 2004

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Second Olympic Medal Opportunity Almost Gone for Blanton
Athens, Greece, August 16, 2004 - Four years after stunning the Beach Volleyball world with a gold medal finish at the Sydney Games, Dain Blanton will probably not have another chance to return to the Olympic podium as he and Jeff Nygaard are almost eliminated from medal contention by losing to John Child and Mark Heese of Canada here Monday afternoon.

Two days after being defeated by Australia's Julien Prosser and Mark Williams, Blanton and Nygaard dropped a 21-16 and 21-10 decision to the Child and Heese in their second of three Pool E matches. Unless there is a forfeit by either the Canadians or Aussies, Blanton and Nygaard will probably end their Athens 2004 Olympic Games schedule Wednesday against fifth-seeded Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel of Switzerland at 12 p.m.

The only way Blanton and Nygaard can advance from their pool is by defeating the Swiss and then hoping either Prosser/Williams or Child/Heese forfeiting their 2:30 p.m. match Wednesday. With the United States' top Olympic-qualified team almost out of the competition; American's hope for a third-straight Olympic gold medal depends on Dax Holdren and Stein Metzger.

The silver medallists from the 2003 FIVB World Championships last October in Rio de Janeiro, Holdren and Metzger won their opening match Sunday against another Australian team and play their second Pool A match Tuesday against Iver Horrem and Bjorn Maaseide of Norway. Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes captured the first Olympic gold medal for the United States in 1996 at Atlanta.

"We just did not get it done," said Blanton, who captured the Sydney 2000 gold medal with Eric Fonoimoana by winning five-straight matches at the ninth-seeded team. "Give the Canadians a lot of credit. They have been playing together for almost 10 years and know how to handle tough situations. We had a good practice Sunday and thought we were ready to play."

Child and Heese have been playing together since February 1995 and posted a third and a fifth in their two Olympic starts in Atlanta and Sydney, respectively. Monday's meeting was the third between the two teams this season with the Canadians winning in Brazil and Blanton and Nygaard in Puerto Rico.

"We lost very badly," said Nygaard, who was competing in his third-straight Olympic Volleyball competition, including playing on the Indoor team in 1996 and 200. "We didn't have the rhythm. I couldn't reach and hit. We deserved to lose the way we played."