Women's Olympic Games, Athens GREECE
From 14 August To 24 August 2004

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Australia, Brazil & United States Compete For Athens Gold
Athens, Greece, August 22, 2004 - Two teams from the United States along with tandems from Australia and Brazil have advanced to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games "final four" after winning matches here Sunday.

The first semi-final at 7 p.m. Monday will feature three players that competed for the Sydney 2000 Olympic gold medal as second-seeded Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede of Brazil play fifth-seeded Natalie Cook and Nicole Sanderson of Australia. Cook and Kerri Pottharst defeated Adriana and Shelda for the Sydney 2000 gold medal.

The second semi-final at 8 p.m. will be an All-American affair as top-seeded Misty May and Kerri Walsh play fourth-seeded Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs. The United States is now guaranteed it's first-ever women's Olympic Beach Volleyball medal.

Seeking her third Olympic medal after also placing third at the 1996 Atlanta Games, Cook and Sanderson withstood a challenge by Daniela Gattelli and Lucilla Perrotta 21-16, 14-21 and 15-12 in 63 minutes.

"Give the Italians a lot of credit for playing hard throughout the match," said Sanderson, who missed qualifying for the Sydney Games due to knee surgery. "Four years ago, I though my chances for an Olympic medal were nothing since I was rehabbing from knee surgery. Once I started playing again, I was confident I could compete at this level. I am glad we got through tonight as I did not play well."

Adriana and Shelda were the first to advance to the semi-finals with a 15-21, 21-13 and 15-13 in 59 minutes over Brazilian rivals Ana Paula Connelly and Sandra Pires. The Sunday afternoon set-back also ended Pires' quest for three-straight Olympic medals as she won the gold with Jackie Silva at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the bronze with Adriana Samuel at the Sydney 2000 Games.

McPeak erased her disappointment of placing fifth twice in the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics by teaming with Youngs to win five-straight matches in the Athens Games, including a 21-17 and 21-17 win in 43 minutes over Stephanie Pohl and Okka Rau of Germany.

May and Walsh joined McPeak/Youngs and Adriana/Shelda with 5-0 marks by scoring a 21-19 and 21-14 win over Guylaine Dumont and Annie Martin of Canada in 38 minutes.

The men's Olympic semi-finals will also be played Monday. The women's medal matches are Tuesday and the men's gold and bronze matches are set for Wednesday evening at the 10,000-seat Olympic Beach Volleyball Centre.