Lausanne, Switzerland, August 04, 2004 - Three of the four Olympic champions from Sydney 2000 will feature on the opening day the 2004 Olympic Games Beach Volleyball competition in Athens following confirmation of the order of play from the International Volleyball Federation and ATHOC on Wednesday.
Women's champions Natalie Cook and Kerri-Ann Pottharst from Australia and men's gold medallist from the United States Dain Blanton, who are all now playing with new partners, will participate in each of the three sessions on the first day (August 14) of pool play in the 12-day competition.
"The confirmed schedule is a result of the successful Drawing of Lots ceremony held in Klagenfurt, Austria last weekend," FIVB President Dr. Rubén Acosta said. "It provides a wonderful platform for all spectators to view the best of Beach Volleyball on the Olympic stage."
The 2004 Olympic Games will provide another Beach Volleyball extravaganza with the best players from around the world putting on a superb display of athleticism in a beautiful stadium that holds 10,000 spectators. All matches will be played on centre court where teams will play three pool matches before 16 teams advance into a single elimination phase featuring Round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals and a final for women on August 24 and a final for men on August 25. The confirmed schedule takes into consideration the results of the Drawing of Lots ceremony on July 31 and will give each team a days rest between matches and includes night sessions.
Pottharst, who is now playing with Summer Lochowicz, will play in the second match on the opening day at 10:00 against Tian Jia and Wang Fei from China. With one of the new innovations for the 2004 Olympic Games Beach Volleyball competition being mixed gender sessions, Pottharst and Lochowicz's match will follow the opening match of the competition featuring a Scandinavian battle between Norway's Jorre André Kjemperud and Vegard Hoidalen and Sweden's Bjorn Berg and Simon Dahl at 09:00. * All times are local times
Meanwhile, Pottharst's 2000 gold medal winning partner Cook will open her 2004 Olympic campaign with Nicole Sanderson at 16:30 against the Yanchulova sisters of Bulgaria (Petia and Lina).
Defending men's champion Dain Blanton, who is playing with his new partner Jeff Nygaard, will play under lights in the final match of the opening day at 23:00 against Australia's Julien Prosser and Mark Williams.
"The new schedule has taken into consideration the FIVB competition regulations and Beach Volleyball fans right around the world with teams playing in certain time zones to accommodate fans back home and maximise exposure," FIVB Beach Volleyball coordinator Angelo Squeo said.
Top seeds in the women's draw Misty May and Kerri Walsh from USA play their first match at 20:00 on day two (August 15) against Japanese 24th seeds Ryoko Tukuno and Chiaki Kusuhara. The top seeds in the men's draw Ricardo Santos and Emanuel Rego from Brazil will play three hours later at 23:00 against bottom seeds Iver Horrem and Björn Maaseide.
Each day in pool play will consist of three sessions featuring four matches starting on the hour. The first session starts at 09:00 until 12:50, the second session runs from 14:30 to 18:20 before the final session starts at 20:00 and finishes at 23:50.