London 2012

LONDON 2012 OLYMPICS BLOG

Sandra Pires


August 10, 2012 – This is my second Olympic Games working for Brazil’s Globo SportTV and this is even more exciting and thrilling than Beijing was four years ago. I know I have learned a lot as a commentator in the last four years. Kind of like being a player, you must always learn, improve and grow or those that do will pass you by in a hurry.

I thought more last night about Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh and I cried a lot because I understand the talent, commitment, sacrifice, passion, love of the sport, practice, mental strength, and emotional strength that it takes for a person to compete at this level.

If anyone has lived up to the theme of this year’s London 2012 Olympic Games, to ‘Inspire a generation’, it would be this great American team. Not one of them, but both of them.

For those who know me, you know I am pretty emotional. But as I carried some more tears of joy last night, that I was able to understand and to be here to experience what they accomplished on the court, I kept asking myself what drove them to get here to succeed here and to thrive here. It finally came to me.

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh both have so many things that other athletes have too, and while wisdom may be one of their key strengths, I believe what is in them that drives them to reach the unreachable and to achieve something that is totally unbelievable is that they both have in their souls and in their hearts, the Olympic spirit!

That intangible ingredient that makes good teams better and great teams unbeatable.

Jackie Silva and I won five Olympic matches in 1996 and I thought was tough and it earned us the gold medal. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh have now won 21 consecutive Olympic matches without a loss and earned three gold medals. And, in that time they also took two years off, May-Treanor because of injuries and Walsh to have two children.

They weren’t having a good season this year on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour and here they are at the very top, the pinnacle of our sport. That’s the Olympic spirit. Inside Misty and Kerri is where it lives, the like eternal flame that burns in every Olympic stadium.

Being Brazilian, the toughest match for me was the semifinal between Brazil’s Juliana and Larissa and USA’s Kessy and Ross. After winning the first set and seeming to be in control, the Americans changed tactics and started serving only Larissa which seldom happens.

Before you know it, the Americans were back in the match and in the end they made fewer mistakes and Juliana and Larissa didn’t have an answer for them this time. The Americans are big and Juliana and Larissa didn’t seem to communicate as much as they usually do.

Then in the bronze medal match, it looked like Juliana and Larissa where still thinking about the loss to the Americans and China’s Xue and Zhang won the first set, but the Brazilians woke up, rallied and played like I knew they could and the won it in three. The Chinese are a great team, and they had two very, very tough losses in the final four.

I felt the top three teams in the Olympics this year were Brazil’s Juliana and Larissa, USA’s Misty and Kerri and China’s Chen and Xi.

The experience and focus of Misty and Kerri was worth 10 points in each set.

Nobody in this sport has bigger hearts and mental strength than Misty and Kerri.

They have fun, they enjoyed playing the game.

The atmosphere here in London has been so terrific and for Rio 2016, we have a lot of work to do to compete with the memory people have of Horse Guards Parade.

The sand here was perfect and the stadium was magnificent, the music was great and the spectators, oh my, I couldn’t believe how many thousands more people were here for every single session in the biggest stadium in Olympic history.

There are also so many great young teams heading up the ladder and it’s good to see so many. I just hope that they keep motivated and maybe someone, someday, will catch a dose of the Olympic spirit that Misty and Kerri have embodied for the last three Olympic Games.

Bregado….see you in Rio 2016.

From Brazil, Sandra is a three-time Olympian, wining gold in the first year for beach volleyball as a medal sport in 1996 in Atlanta with Jackie Silva, bronze with Adriana Samuel in 2000 in Sydney and fifth in Athens with Ana Paula Connelly. She is in London as one of the announcers for the Brazil telecasts of the beach volleyball competition for Globo SportTV. She will also work as a commentator for Globo SportTV’s coverage of the Brazilian national tour when it resumes in September.

Kerri Pottharst


As we say farewell to all our old friends and new friends on this final day of our beach volleyball competition at these London 2012 Olympic Games, I feel humble and honoured to have been a part of it as an Australian TV commentator as well as just a spectator enjoying every serve, dig, set, kill, celebration and disappointment that unfolded on the sand of the court at Horse Guards Parade.

Okay, now that I have regained my emotions and gathered my thoughts into coherent words, phrases and sentences, I will attempt to not get all choked up while I write about the unbelievable display of sportsmanship, athleticism, passion and love for our cherished sport I experienced Wednesday night at the women’s medal matches. They were so enthralling I almost, and I repeat almost forgot that Prince Harry was there enjoying, embracing and appreciating the world’s best women’s best beach volleyball players as he watched with admiration both medal matches.

As memorable as the two women’s semifinals were, the medal matches were from another planet!

Well, what can I say that hasn’t already been said by nearly everyone from the North Pole to Argentina. I think the volleyball world is a little taken aback and kind of in shock by the enormity of what Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor have done in leaving a lasting legacy for our sport in general and especially our sport in the Olympic Games.

Unbelievable, unquestionable, unreachable – there are simply no words that can describe their achievement.

When they came into these Olympics, after having one win in the past 12 months, I thought they had an outside chance of gold. I knew they would reach the semifinals but it all depended upon who would have the courage and the strength of mind to beat them on this grand stage.

But, it appears no team in the world has the ability to rise to the top, both physically and mentally, on such a big occasion as Kerri and Misty do. Will we ever see this again? I doubt it.

Will their style of play be copied for years to come? Absolutely should be.

They are a brand for our sport. No need for surnames – “Kerri and Misty” have not only written the history books, they have printed them and given them out to all the world.

Jen and April ran their race, played their gold medal match, the night before. Beating Larissa and Juliana in the semifinals was such a big task for them, I don’t think they had time to let it all sink in. They didn’t possess the same belief that Kerri and Misty did. I don’t think anyone could have stopped their train last night.

The bronze medal match was a big surprise for me. Not because Brazil’s Juliana and Larissa won, but because of how they won. While China’s truly great Chen Xue and Xi Zhang seemed to have had it wrapped up, one and a half sets into the match, Brazil came from nowhere to steal the match.

The first set was lost by Brazil, who obviously hadn’t gotten over their disappointment of not making the final. They played without the normal passion and flair they have had all tournament.

Then, after an inspiring block from Juliana and some words from her to her partner, Larissa, it seemed they woke themselves up and realized that if they didn’t get into this match they could be leaving the Olympic Games with nothing.

This surprised the Chinese and their game tightened up. A few unforced errors from China and Brazil was back in the race, winning the second set.

After this rush of blood, Juliana and Larissa came alive and were just too good for China.

So, after 11 days, amazing weather and welcoming crowds, the women’s competition at the London 2012 London Olympic Games is over. But, wow, what memories we leave with from appreciating the talent, dedication and sacrifice of not only the veteran more experienced players but also the passionate aggression of our sport’s new generation of developing women’s beach volleyball athletes.

I hasten to say it, but the atmosphere at these Games has been the best ever. It surpasses Sydney’s Bondi Beach, and you should know what those Sydney 2000 Olympic Games mean to me, and we can only wonder how Rio 2016 will be able to top this!

Cheers everyone. See you on the court.

Kerri Pottharst is a former Australian beach volleyball and volleyball player and famously won gold along with Nathalie Cook at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games in front of her home fans. She also claimed bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and competed at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. She last played on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour in 2004 but since then has married and had a 5 year old son called Tyson. She is a highly sought after Motivational Speaker as well as spending time on the sand coaching beach volleyball. Most recently, Kerri has released a book titled “The Business of Being an Athlete” a step-by-step guide on how the right attitude, the right tools, and the right approach took her from being a part-time athlete to becoming a multi-award winning champion, a hot property for sponsorship, and a successful entrepreneur. www.kerripottharst.com

Martin Laciga


First of all, before I get into the men’s semifinal and medal matches, I have to say that the women’s semifinals and medal matches have been at a level not seen before in the history of beach volleyball, especially in the Olympic Games. Just unbelievable but so encouraging for our sport as we finish this Olympic cycle and begin a new four years of preparing for Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The men’s semifinals went more according to script as the favorites clearly rose to the occasion and pretty much dominated as Brazil’s Alison and Emanuel and Germany’s Brink and Reckermann won and will meet Thursday night in what should be an epic closing to the beach volleyball competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

I was impressed with Brazil’s Alison and Emanuel how they bounced back from near defeat by Poland’s Fijalek and Prudel in the quarterfinals and controlled Latvia’s less experienced Plavins and Smedins.

They quickly regained they confidence, as the Latvians’ blocking isn’t their strong suit so they have to go with their defense but Alison’s work and the net and Emanuel’s much-improved offense all of the court spelled quick doom for Plavins and Smedins who have played very well in these Olympic Games.

The power of Alison took over immediately which opened things up for Emanuel.

In the other semifinal, Germany’s Brink and Reckermann steamrolled Netherlands’ Nummerdor and Schuil, with Reckermann’s blocking and Brink’s defence, I haven’t seen them play this well maybe ever. Each match here in the Olympics they have gotten better and better.

Now the German’s have a great opportunity in the gold medal match.

The bronze medal match will depend on the defense of both the Dutch and the Latvians. If the Latvians can get back to their rallying play with big saves that will help them, but Nummerdor and Schuil are a veteran team with tons of experience that won’t allow things to become easy for Plavins and Smedins.

Nummerdor and Schuil should be able with their experience and their power game be able to exert a little more pressure than Plavins and Smedins so I give the edge to the Dutch for the bronze medal.

The gold medal match will be a battle between the two best blockers in beach volleyball in Alison and Reckermann and Emanuel the legendary offensive player and Brink the best defensive player so it could easily go to tiebreaker to determine the champion and each set could also easily go to overtime as well.

Brazil has some much confidence and with the experience of Emanuel and the strength of Alison there isn’t much of a weakness to find in their game at all. Brink and Reckermann have played a very short schedule this year as Reckermann recovered from a shoulder injury and the performance has been superb, especially in Europe.

These are the best two men’s teams of the London 2012 Olympic Games and they deserve to be in the gold medal match. For me I have to go with Emanuel with his great experience and Alison with his unbelievable strength and rapidly developing skills.

The Germans might get a little tense with all the pressure and this could be the difference in who wins the gold medal match. It will be so close that it will be some little thing that happens that will change the flow of the match.

I do think while Brazil’s Alison and Emanuel should win the gold, the match should definitely be much closer and much better than the men’s semifinal matches were on Monday.

Lastly, I am uncertain if I will head from here in London to Stare Jablonki for next week’s season finally of the men’s 2012 FIVB SWATCH Beach Volleyball World Tour in Poland at the Mazury Orlen Grand Slam. This has been mentally and physically draining for me here in London being in the broadcast booth and not on the practice field.

I will decide in the next couple days if I will go or not as my training and workout schedule has obviously been disrupted here in London. On one hand, I would trade this experience for anything, but also I don’t like to go to a grand slam tournament of this stature if I don’t feel that I am physically ready. We will see what happens.

From Switzerland, Martin is a three-time Olympic beach volleyball player (2000, 2004 and 2008) and still current player on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour with 203 events to date. He is in London as a commentator for Television Swiss Romande. His wife, Claudia Laciga, is a former FIVB international player and currently a junior beach volleyball national coach in Switzerland.

 

Kerri Pottharst


The men and women’s semifinals Tuesday night were remarkable, each in their own way as the honored the hallowed ground upon which the court of sand sits surrounded by the theatre of thousands of adoring admirers.

Looking first women’s semifinal between Brazil’s Juliana Silva and Larissa Franca and USA’s Jennifer Kessy and April Ross, the first thing is the constant rain that poured down on the field of play harder and lasting longer than any other match in the entire tournament. Let’s just say, it all turned out to be showers of blessings for USA’s Kessy/Ross.

After a one sided affair to Brazil in the first set, Kessy and Ross found something – especially Jen Kessy who is not normally one of the dominant blockers, but her two blocks in the second set put them right back in the race and must have played on the mind of Larissa as she then went on to make some uncharacteristic errors in attack.

Sensing that they were back in the game, Kessy/Ross put the pressure on Larissa, who seemed quite negative and vocal towards her partner, Juliana. This breakdown in communication gave the USA some confidence and they finished the match playing some of the best beach volleyball that they have, so far in this event and is reminiscent of their form back in 2009, when they won the World Championships in a similar fashion against the same Juliana and Larissa, but three years later.

In the first women’s semifinal, it turned out to be an all-time classic whose script would keep the playwright employed in the Old Globe for centuries. Well, Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor, what can I say but “hail to you two amazing athletes and ladies.” Everything they have been through over the past four years, two babies born to Kerri and her husband Casey Jennings, Achilles tendon ruptures to Misty, surgeries to both, more losses in the past 12 months than they have ever endured in their careers – and now they are guaranteed another Olympic medal and most probably, a Gold.

However, I am reluctant to try to predict any more results in this event, because so far I am not doing too well in that area!

The juggle of motherhood for Kerri, her husband and two boys over these past three years and the battle to keep her body in top physical condition is a credit to the team she has around her along with the passion, desire and competitiveness this gentle spirit carries within her heart.

She has such a strong vision and is so dedicated to what she sets her mind to, she and Misty will most certainly put up the fight of their lives in the final.

Then there’s Misty May-Treanor, from Dancing with the Stars injuries to mind blowing defense and attacking. Misty is playing like a 25 year old (she turned 35 on July 30). She will retire after this event and what a way to leave the sport, playing at the highest level for a third Olympic Gold Medal

Men’s semi’s

The men’s semifinals weren’t near as dramatic as the women’s which were filled with so many twists and turns in the plots of each.

Germany’s Julius Brink andJonas Reckermann were clean, crisp and courageous in their dominant display over the Nederlands’. Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil were not let into the match at all. Reckermann was way too stong on the block and Julius Brink complimented that with some unbelievable one handed defense and smart, consistent siding out.

If the Netherlands can regroup in time, they have a shot at winning bronze over Latvia. They must use their disappointment in a positive way as this will no doubt be Schuil’s last Olympic Games and he would love to finish with a medal. This will also be a meeting featuring two countries in Latvia and the Netherlands who have never had a men’s team in the final four in the Olympic Games prior to the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Brazil’s Alison Cerutti and Emmanuel Rego basically overpowered the Latvians Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins who just looked overwhelmed in their semifinal.

Their lack of experience and the fact they were playing two guys that they have looked up to for so many years was just too much for them to fire up on all cylinders, like they have been throughout this event.

Smedins was the target for the Brazilians, unlike past matches where Plavins had to do most of the siding out.
Smedins could barely get a ball past Alison, who’s blocking technique was text book style.

If he did get one past, Emanuel was there to gobble it up and finish off the point with the grace and power he is renowned for.

Emmanuel’s side out was also a step up from his previous quarterfinal match, which saw him give away many unforced errors.

Emanuel will have to be at the top of his game to get past Reckermann at the net and the amazing acrobatic defense of Brink.

Here were are at the grand finale to some magnificent Olympic beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade. But before we bid adieu to such a classic venue and such a remarkable competition, let’s stand up and salute these great beach volleyball medal matches at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Kerri Pottharst is a former Australian beach volleyball and volleyball player and famously won gold along with Nathalie Cook at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games in front of her home fans. She also claimed bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and competed at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. She last played on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour in 2004 but since then has married and had a 5 year old son called Tyson. She is a highly sought after Motivational Speaker as well as spending time on the sand coaching beach volleyball. Most recently, Kerri has released a book titled “The Business of Being an Athlete” a step-by-step guide on how the right attitude, the right tools, and the right approach took her from being a part-time athlete to becoming a multi-award winning champion, a hot property for sponsorship, and a successful entrepreneur. www.kerripottharst.com

Kerri Pottharst


Although it’s very lovely to look at and take photos of, we don’t need Big Ben to tell us that time flies and that the London 2012 Olympic Games beach volleyball competition at Horse Guards Parade is rapidly drawing to a close.

Although Sydney 2000 will always be my personal favorite for a lot of reasons, these London 2012 Olympic Games may just go down in history as the most competitive and memorable beach volleyball competition in our relatively short history at the Olympic Games. From Atlanta 1996 to Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and now London 2012, our sport has grown dramatically and there is no more spectator-friendly event in all of the Olympics.

The stadium at the iconic Horse Guards Parade is a painting that will forever live in the canvas of our minds and hearts for not only the venue, but the spectators, officials, court personnel, media and most of all the absolutely amazing athletes that have graced this magnificent venue for their hour upon the stage.

Now, here we are at the semifinals for both men and women and while we might have thought otherwise as pool play so spectacularly unfolded, and the elimination rounds have been so artistically and aggressively played, the lords and ladies of the sand have been royally received and their competition has found us at this point with the top four seeds in the women’s competition in the final four and for the men we have the numbers one, three, five and 17 seeds as for the fifth straight Olympics at least one major seed breakthrough has made its way into the men’s final four.

And now we are awaiting their shining moments to blossom in full with Tuesday night’s semifinals for both genders and the glorious medal matches for women on Wednesday and men on Thursday.

I would never say that I had filled out my bracket for the elimination phase 100 percent accurately, but then I would never say I didn’t either. The point is in both genders we find this poetic drama has developed with an incredible cast of spectacular athletes who have paid the price, made the sacrifices and now found themselves in a place of highest honor – the final four of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

From my perspective and I have said this since the beginning of these glorious Games, the cream always rises to the top and for these four teams in each gender, they have proven to be the best our sport has to offer in 2012.

All are to be congratulated, praised and esteemed for this great accomplishment. But in all of this, the biggest prizes still await in medals of gold, silver and bronze.

The women’s quarterfinals were like so many others in these Olympics, very impressive.

I wasn’t surprised with who won each quarterfinal (Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa, USA’s Kessy/Ross, USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh and China’s Xue/Zhang) but the big surprise for me was that Italy’s Cicolari/Menegatti did have a stronger performance against Misty and Kerri.

I think the youth and inexperience of Marta Menegatti (she’s barely 21) really weighed on her team’s shoulders. The Italians have had good matches with Misty and Kerri in the past and I think the enormity of this event was just too much for her to handle and it showed in your play, which was not what she has shown and is capable of and will have in the future because she is a great young player.

It was really kind of sad because I thought the Italians might be a team that could pull an upset. But of course, Misty and Kerri were unbelievably crisp even though they had to change some things up they were seriously focused and incredibly steady the entire match which has been very characteristic of these great American champions, especially in matches with this much significance.

China was fantastic against Austria’s Schwaiger sisters but Xue and Zhang were just so aggressive and played so strong and with few if any mistakes. You could see in their eyes that they were really focused and they were really on the go. They knew that all of their unforced errors were behind them and it’s all about sticking to the game plan.

The Chinese are doing an amazing job of playing in the moment and not looking ahead. They are having fun and I think it will be an incredible match against American’s May-Treanor and Walsh.

I think that Chinese just in their aggression and their precision will have a small edge, but Misty and Kerri as they always do will put a lot of pressure on the Chinese and will be in there like they always are at the end and I think it will be a very, very good match. It’s true that the Chinese have won the last three times that the two teams have played, but they weren’t playing on this stage where Misty and Kerri are 19-0 with a set record of 38-1. When these two teams met in the semifinals of both the 2007 FIVB SWATCH World Championships and the 2011 FIVB SWATCH World Championships, the American won both times.

I think USA’s Kessy/Ross in their quarterfinal win over Czech Republic’s Kolocova/Slukova were very lucky at times and the Czech women were in my mind the biggest surprise of these Olympic games among the women and their fifth place finish is very remarkable.

The first set could have gone either way and it did go to overtime before Kessy/Ross were able to squeeze by 25-23. In the second set, Kessy/Ross were more focused and the young Czech team made more errors that Kessy/Ross took advantage of and held them off to advance to meet Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa tonight.

Juliana/Larissa were absolutely dominating against Germans Goller/Ludwig. I really don’t think the Germans, who had a very good tournament to make the quarterfinals and won their all-German round of 16 match over Holtwick/Semmler, brought their A game against Brazil, but Juliana and Larissa are so great they can make very good teams look bad.

Brazilians versus Kessy/Ross I think in my mind Juliana and Larissa are on fire and Kessy/Ross could very well be the next good team to get burnt.

I think it will be a Brazil-China gold medal match with Misty and Kerri winning the bronze, but as we have seen anything can happen like it has with the men and women’s competition.

You know it’s all about their emotional state and how they react to a bad play. If they make a mistake and react positively they’re okay. The problem is if you make one mistake and you aren’t positive, it quickly distracts you and you’ve made two or three mistakes and dug a deep hole.

That’s why I still think experience is the key.

Among the men’s competition so far, I think Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel are dominating and they only sure pick for a spot in the gold medal match.

Check back Wednesday and we’ll have our picks for the medals for both genders after Tuesday’s semifinals.

As over 400,000 embracing fans have done for these past 10 days of pilgrimage, we stand and salute these mighty warriors of Horse Guards Parade and praise….three cheers for these gallant princes and princesses of the royal court of sand.

Kerri Pottharst is a former Australian beach volleyball and volleyball player and famously won gold along with Nathalie Cook at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games in front of her home fans. She also claimed bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and competed at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. She last played on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour in 2004 but since then has married and had a 5 year old son called Tyson. She is a highly sought after Motivational Speaker as well as spending time on the sand coaching beach volleyball. Most recently, Kerri has released a book titled “The Business of Being an Athlete” a step-by-step guide on how the right attitude, the right tools, and the right approach took her from being a part-time athlete to becoming a multi-award winning champion, a hot property for sponsorship, and a successful entrepreneur. www.kerripottharst.com

Martin Laciga


August 4, 2012 - I just broadcasted the match of the last of three Swiss teams in these Olympic Games so I am kind of bummed. I always wish Swiss teams the best and that they could have gone further in this year’s competition, but it wasn’t meant to be I guess. Both men’s teams and the one women’s team certainly had their moments and they all won some matches and some sets but none have gone past the round of 16 so I am sure they will learn from this experience, but better for it and for beach volleyball in Switzerland in general, this was a significant step forward having three teams qualify for the Olympics.

The players and coaches learned a lot and for those players who will keep their dreams alive, they hopefully will be able to use the valuable lesions that they experienced here in London. For the coaches and the national federation I am confident that they leave these games with a great understanding of the significance of our sport in the Olympic movement and that we have work to do to achieve the elite status in the future.

In looking at the men’s final four now, everything is all shook up because of the unbelievable upset that USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers endured Friday night. Those close to the sport are in shock, but we all know we play the games because at any time, anyone can win, no matter how big of an underdog you might be. I feel bad for Phil and Todd because they are a great team and while they might have lost here in London, I nor anyone else but Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai, thought it would happen in the round of 16 to a young-but-talented Italian team.

There have been some nice wins in the round of 16 including Latvia’s Plavins/Smedins beating the Norwegians and even the Netherlands defeating Switzerland on Saturday. These are all good wins as is Germany’s Brink/Reckermann’s win Saturday night over Latvia’s Samoilovs/Sorokins. Not that I didn’t think Germany could win, but they did it in very convincing style as both Latvian teams have played well here in London.

The big games help teams bring out their best, especially if they don’t let their nerves get the best of them. It is intimidating enough to be playing in the Olympic Games but then to have made it to an elimination round and to come out of the tunnel onto the sand with 15,000 strangers on their feet cheering for you just because you’re an Olympian is pretty amazing.

All the teams in the bracket have the ability to go all the way at this point but for me, for sure Alison and Emanuel are playing at a level that would seem out of this planet, but there are no undefeated teams in beach volleyball. We all take our lumps. It’s what we do when that happens that matters.

Combination of power, confidence and experience are the key ingredients to carry a team into the gold medal match and beyond.

The Polish team played very calmly and with much confidence and they won their round of 16 match. It’s also amazing what Cunha and Ricardo are doing. Ricardo is a four-time Olympian and he is playing with that kind of power, confidence and experience, and also with the enthusiasm of it being his first time in the Olympics.

I expect Alison/Emanuel in the final four while Gibb/Rosenthal and Cunha/Ricardo get their best game together when it is this time of the tournament. The Netherlands’ Nummerdor/Schuil are also a very talented and experienced team who don’t make many mistakes and they could be a factor.

When it’s down to the final two, I expect Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel to be one of them.

The fans are accepting this sport so eagerly it’s inspiring. The crowds are so large for every match, for every session and for every day it makes you wish we could keep doing this for another two weeks. I salute the British fans for taking a sport like this that they know nothing about and making it their own.

People are getting more and more excited which in turn is giving even more enthusiasm to the players and helps motivate them to play to an even higher level. We will be seeing more big games, more big emotions and more big victories.

I believe because of the venue, the spectators and the competition, this will go down in history as the most memorable Olympic Games beach volleyball competition of the five that have been held over the last 16 years.

From Switzerland, Martin is a three-time Olympic beach volleyball player (2000, 2004 and 2008) and still current player on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour with 203 events to date. He is in London as a commentator for Television Swiss Romande. His wife, Claudia Laciga, is a former FIVB international player and currently a junior beach volleyball national coach in Switzerland.

Kerri Pottharst


August 3, 2012 - As we continue this amazing London journey of the Olympic Games, I think women’s pool play was phenomenal with very, very few surprises, except of course, the very first match when Russia’s Anastasia Vasina and Anna Vozakova stunned the beach volleyball word with their win over China’s Chen Xue/Xi Zhang in that three-set thriller that seems so long ago.

When you look at the bracket, you see that the top four teams are spread out well with Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa at the top and spread pretty evenly down the ladder are USA’s Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh, China’s Xue/Zhang and Brazil’s Antonelli/Antunes.

USA’s Jennifer Kessy/April Ross won their pool and got a reasonable bracket placement.

Even in losing their pool I think that China got a good spot in the bracket, but at this stage of the competition every match is a huge challenge and as the bracket shrinks and the final days draw closer I still think the cream rises to the top and at least in the women’s competition we should see the teams we expect to be there in the final four next week.

I think Brazil’s Juliana and Larissa played up to their standards in pool play and are at a level that will make them extremely hard, but not impossible - as nothing is in sport, to beat.

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh had a tough match against the Schwiager sisters but in the end they prevailed and that’s what champions do when adversity comes. I think having such late and chilly matches affected them some but I think they are improving which is what you want to do as you come out of pool play and head to single elimination.

I think the Chinese are getting better and better after faltering in their first match and I think they are poised to play their best matches of the year.

And remember, they are leading the points on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour and they have won three gold medals this year on the world tour.

I think all the players are starting to get used to the environment and it will especially those who prepared properly and came here ready to play at the highest level possible. Now that pool play is over, the pressure is really on the remaining teams and you could really see it in the first match this morning between the two German teams, Goller/Ludwig and Holtwick/Semmler.

These matches against your compatriots are really tough and Goller/Ludwig won for the 10th consecutive time against their friends whom the practice with and play so often on the world tour.

Goller/Ludwig are one of the teams who have raised their game at the right time, but they obviously have a tough spot on the ladder as their next opponent is the top-seeded Juliana and Larissa which will be a huge challenge for them and for anyone in this tournament.

Sometimes when you push so hard and little things cause stress and when everything seems to be against you, you find another level to play. I don’t think Juliana and Larissa have really been pushed yet, but I am sure they will be in their next match with Goller/Ludwig. They are in good form.

My biggest surprise team from pool play is easy to say Spain’s Elsa Baquerizo and Liliana Fernandez. I haven’t been around the World Tour too much the past two years so I haven’t seen much of them before this week and what I have seen has really, really impressed me.

They are very emotional, they are very strong, Liliana has one of the hardest blocks on the world tour and Else can get to a lot of balls heading to the sand. They are fierce and passionate. They play Italy next and it will be a fiery one with the enthusiasm both teams play with every time they go onto the court.They are a very aggressive team and at this level it has to be a controlled aggression and I think they are definitely heading in the right direction. I think the Italians (Cicolari and Menegatti) have been up and down and teams are starting to figure them out some but they are still a very solid team.

My women’s final four Juliana and Larissa for sure, Misty and Kerri, China’s Xue/Zhang and I’m going to say the other Brazilian team Maria Antonelli and Talita. That will do it. Again, I believe in experience still will rule. Aggressive controlled with no fear is what will win the gold. It will keep you in the game and four of these teams will do it this week and three of them will stand on the podium in the shadow of Big Ben next week. I can’t wait to celebrate with them.

Before I close this blog, I must bid my personal farewell as well to my friend and former teammate Natalie Cook, a five-time Olympian with whom I won a gold medal with and who has now officially retired after not making it out of pool play.

What can I say. Nat is like a sister to me. We experienced so much playing in the Olympic Games. She has so much resilience, and commitment to the sport. She is an Aussie battler and I would expect to see her involved with the Australian Olympic movement forever. She is extreme passion for the sport and she is a great world ambassador for our sport.

And, she wouldn’t admit it, but I taught her everything she knows - I say this tongue-in-check, of course-

A toast to you Nat and to all of these amazing athletes here at Horse Guards Parade.

Sandra Pires

 


August 1, 2012 - I was very impressed with how Juliana and Larissa took care of Klapalova and Hajeckova. In the first set they played perfectly. After winning the first set so easily, the second set is always difficult because you have to keep your concentration. Against stronger teams you can’t relax but it is normal when you have won the first set.

Right now for me, they are looking very good for the gold medal. They have the most important thing which is attitude. I talked with Juliana and she said that each game is like a final for them, no matter who the players or the country are.

In terms of teams who would be the biggest threat I was thinking of China but they lost the first match, it was surprise but I still believe in China. Of course Misty and Kerri aren’t in the best shape but they know their way. They have two gold medals and they know how to win. They have the psychology. They are different to Brazilians. Their personality is strong during the game and we have to learn from the Americans. They are cold on the court. Independent of the score they keep the same focus and concentration. I have never seen an American player fight amongst themselves, they are always focused but the Brazilians are getting better.

Right now for Juliana and Larissa, focus is the most important. They have to keep their same routine. I remember what Jackie and I did in Atlanta. Our routine was the same, practice and play and stay out of the athletes’ village. I think Juliana and Larissa are going to do the same and change their accommodation. That way they can stay more concentrated and focused as the Olympic village is big and there are a lot of distractions.

They have to keep strong mentally, think only of the next game and stay happy. It is so good to be at an Olympics but sometimes they forget, they put a lot of pressure on themselves because they know they can win. If you look back at recent results, they are ready to win gold.

I believe in all four teams actually. Talita and Antonelli, I believe in them and Ricardo. He has three medals and this is his fourth Olympics. He has great experience. I think Brazil can win four medals. I don’t say favourite because a favourite has to be winning everything leading up to the tournament. The year 2011 was a good year for Brazil but 2012 is not the same.

When we won gold we won everything before and when we went to Atlanta we were favourites because we won everything. This time in 2012 they haven’t kept the same form from 2011.
For the athletes who are at an Olympics for the first time it is most important because it is a huge event, for most of the players it is a dream, everything is beautiful. You can see other athletes from other sports.

In Atlanta, Jackie and I and the coach we stayed on a farm. It was Jackie’s decision. She had played in LA and Moscow and she knew the way and knew everything. I wanted to go to the opening ceremony but she convinced me not to go since we had a match the following day. I was so sad and angry, I didn’t speak to her for three days. We watched it on the TV at the end but once the competition was over I thanked her because in the end she was right.

In Sydney I carried the flag. It was a great present. I am the first and only Brazilian woman to do so.

From Brazil, Sandra is a three-time Olympian, wining gold in the first year for beach volleyball as a medal sport in 1996 in Atlanta with Jackie Silva, bronze with Adriana Samuel in 2000 in Sydney and fifth in Athens with Ana Paula Connelly. She is in London as one of the announcers for the Brazil telecasts of the beach volleyball competition for Globo SportTV.

Martin Laciga

 

August 1, 2012 - I wanted to qualify for the Olympics (with Jonas Weingart), but this is a great alternative to being on the sand. We were very close and it went down to the last event in Rome. Working with this professional group on television is a new experience for me but very well worth it to see the game from a totally different perspective, very interesting.

I have been able to provide some very good insight so far about the different things that go on during the match and what the sport is all about. I’ve tried to be a teacher to help the other announcer learn more about the sport and they are learning very quickly.

The open stadium with these huge, friendly crowds, the view, the overall ambience is amazing. I went to three Olympics as a player and the venues are all different. Here in London, it may be missing a beachfront but the beautiful historical environment where the venue is obviously is like no other in the five Olympic Games where beach volleyball has been a medal sport. Each one is very special to me for obvious reasons, but for being in a beach environment, Bondi Beach in Australia in 2000 was my personal favorite, but a major reason is that it was my first Olympic Games as a player.

The London Eye is staring and Big Ben is watching which almost gives you a feeling like you’re with Peter Pan, the lost boys on a magical adventure in Never Never Land.

Horse Guards Parade will go down in history, I think, for sheer beauty with Horse Guards headquarters, St. James’ Park, the London Eye, Big Ben, No. 10 Downing Street, Churchill’s War Rooms, you can just go on and on. It’s also remarkable how enthusiastically the spectators have become fans and embraced the event, the sport and these amazing athletes.

The stadium is always full for three different sessions. The stadium and the area it is located in is inspiring and will be the main venue from these Olympic Games most remembered in the future, especially because it is all temporary and in a few weeks it will only be a wonderful memory. Here in London this venue and this stadium is a perfect combination between the city and all the visitors from around the world.

Working as a TV commentator is a lot of work and gives me greater appreciation for everything that is involved in producing a telecast. Even though I know the players, for TV you have to know much more about the personal lives and their statistical history which is causing me to do more research than I thought would be necessary but it is a memorable experience. I am actually at the venue more hours than I am at a regular FIVB SWATCH World Tour event. We’re here at 7am and we don’t finish until around midnight so it makes for very long days and short nights but it is a truly a great experience for me.

The TV group has a big, talented staff and it’s very interesting to see how they put it all together to make a show. As you know, the rights holder has been providing all of the international broadcasters with great live action, replays and special packages so it is definitely a good thing for me to be involved. Again, I would rather be on the sand, but to be overlooking centre court in a packed stadium with 15,000 enthusiastic people who just want to enjoy great athletes competing even if the majority know little about the sport.

What’s fun about the audience is that they participate and encourage both teams and when a team from Great Britain is playing its louder than any stop we have on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour. The support both teams (unless a host-country team is playing) receive from the fans has to thrill the players tremendously and help them to play at an even higher level with so many eyes watching closely.

I haven’t really been too surprised with the results so far and even though there have been several upsets, we have to remember it is pool play and things will sort themselves out by the end of pool play tomorrow night.

When it comes time for the medal matches in both genders, I think most of the favorites will be there, from Brazil, USA, China, but like every Olympic Games there will be a team that will surprise some teams during the elimination rounds and make it to the final four.

The important thing about pool play is for the top-seeded teams to win their pools because if they don’t, it changes the bracket placement tremendously and means that sometimes the top two teams will end up meeting in the quarterfinals or semifinals and not the gold medal match.

The Swiss men’s teams have had some ups and downs but especially Seba (Sebastian Chevallier) Sasha (Heyer) have played very, very well and have a great chance to win their pool and get a good placement in the Round of 16.

On paper, Heuscher and Bellaguarda are the strongest team for the men on paper, but they have struggled here in London so far but they are in the strongest men’s pool with Brazil’s Alison/Emanuel, Italy’s Lupo/Nicolai and Austria’s Doppler/Horst. If they can make it out of pool play I still think they have a shot to beat some people in single-elimination.

It’s really hard to make predictions on the final four right now because the top teams have struggled, even I wonder if they are having nerves or just pacing themselves for the single-elimination rounds. USA’s Dalhausser/Rogers haven’t had a great season but they know how to win and they know what the Olympics are all about so you can’t count them out. They stay calm always and that’s very important.

Brazil’s Alison and Emanuel have played great for two years and Alison is young but nobody has a better on-the-sand coach than he does in Emanuel. Brazil’s Cunha/Ricardo are playing very confidently and I also like the Latvian team of Samoilovs/Sorokins. Samoilovs loves the crowd and plays to please them.

USA’s Gibb/Rosenthal haven’t played very well, they have played a lot lately and maybe they are just waiting for the bigger games to begin although they dominated the other good Latvian team today so maybe they are back.

It is a tough competition. I can’t point to one team right now, it’s more like five, six, or seven teams that have a great opportunity to bring home some London gold.

From Switzerland, Martin is a three-time Olympic beach volleyball player (2000, 2004 and 2008) and still current player on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour with 203 events to date. He is in London as a commentator for Television Swiss Romande. His wife, Claudia Laciga, is a former FIVB international player and currently a junior beach volleyball national coach in Switzerland.

Kerri Pottharst

 

July 31, 2012 - In a word…inspirational. That’s how I would describe the first few days of my personal Olympic experience at the London 2012 Olympic Games beach volleyball competition being held at an unparalleled venue at Horse Guards Parade.

Teams are playing like their athletic lives depend on it and tens of thousands of fans cheering like they have magically embraced a sport they know little about except to enthusiastically cheer at the multitude of spectacular plays that have permeated the sensational sand on the palatial court.

Like always, there are teams who have raised the level of the game, even it is for just one match to the point that we have seen an abundance of three-set matches which is certainly good for television and superb for the throngs of fans who continue to fill the magnificent stadium three times daily.

As we reflect on some key women’s matches, I can’t help but first consider the woman I won my gold medal with in Sydney in 2000 and my bronze in Atlanta in 1996 - Australia’s five-time Olympian and double medalist Natalie Cook.

On day one I was particularly impressed with the play of Cook and her teammate Tamsin Hinchley in their opening match against the great American team of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh. I thought they really pushed Misty and Kerri and I know Natalie is going to give every last ounce to help her team go as far as they can go here in London.

Nat thrives on pressure and I thought Tam did a great job blocking and Nat pursued every ball with a passion that is unequalled. However, in their second match last night they seemed like it was a different team all together. The Schwaiger sisters had a great strategy and it worked for them. They caught the Aussies off guard and they weren’t able to adjust much and even though their effort level stayed high, they weren’t able to make any significant adjustments to counter what the Austrian’s were doing and even though it took them three sets to finish it, the Schwaigers were relentless and Nat and Tam weren’t playing like they did against the Americans.

They fought and fought and fought but sometimes when you get behind things get worse because you’re trying so hard and then mistakes can start being made when you pick up the pace and almost get into a desperation mode.

A very important thing when it comes to pool play is that you need to win the matches you are supposed to and play as hard as you can in the others and just keep hoping for the best and you never know what could happen.

Now, we all just hope than can salvage a win against the Czech team and be able to advance out of pool to the single elimination part of this year’s Olympics.

Kerri and Misty had another hard match on Monday night against the Czech team Kolocova/Slukova but the Czech women probably played the best game of their life.

Kerri and Misty can get down sometimes in a match, but much, much more often than not, they find a way to pull it out like they did in the second set on Monday night against the Czech team.

Another of the tough matches was Australia’s Louise Bawden and Becchara Palmer’s loss to Germany’s Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig. The Aussies looked anxious in the match and had way too many unforced errors.

Then there was that unbelievable match between Great Britain’s Zara Dampney/Shauna Mullin and Canada’s Marie-Andree Lessard/Annie Martin. The match raised the level of understanding and acceptance to the thousands of fans that filled the stadium with British flags and rousing cheers to the uniqueness and the greatness of our sport. The Britons were well prepared for the huge crowd so that they would feed off the energy. The pro-Great Britain crowd was helping to lift their game up a notch and help the people identify with the competition and really gave them something to cheer about in their home-country team.

China’s Chen Xue/Xi Zhang is still rebounding from its opening match upset loss to Russia and although they did win their second match, they will need to get it in gear to defeat the Greek team on Wednesday in order to be in a position to win their pool which will help them greatly in their placement in the single-elimination bracket.

China has been the most consistent team on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour this year but they still haven’t found their groove here in London. They were the bronze medallists in Beijing in 2008 and now they have even higher expectations they and others have put on them. They don’t look right now like a team that will medal, they certainly haven’t played their best yet.

One final thought is how wonderful the FIVB heroes lounge is here in St. James Park by the practice courts and the daily heroes luncheons they have been having for the media to relax with players like China’s Xue/Zhang, USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh, Germany’s Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann and Germany’s Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig.

Nothing like this has ever been a part of the Olympic Games before and it has been a wonderful opportunity to get to know some of the heroes of beach volleyball in a relaxed, low-key atmosphere and have the opportunity to ask them more in-depth questions outside of how the last match went for them.

There have been some upsets so far and there could end up to be several ties in pool play that will have to be decided by sets won and lost so everybody on Wednesday will be trying to win their matches and win them in two sets.

Kerri Pottharst is a former Australian beach volleyball and volleyball player and famously won gold along with Nathalie Cook at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games in front of her home fans. She also claimed bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and competed at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. She last played on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour in 2004 but since then has married and had a 5 year old son called Tyson. She is a highly sought after Motivational Speaker as well as spending time on the sand coaching beach volleyball. Most recently, Kerri has released a book titled “The Business of Being an Athlete” a step-by-step guide on how the right attitude, the right tools, and the right approach took her from being a part-time athlete to becoming a multi-award winning champion, a hot property for sponsorship, and a successful entrepreneur. www.kerripottharst.com

Sandra Pires


July 30, 2012 - When I first arrived at Horse Guards Parade, I thought immediately that I had definitely retired too early because I missed the opportunity to play in this absolutely amazing venue. The only problem for me though is I have to concentrate harder to keep my eyes on the action on the court and not on the uniqueness and beauty of the surroundings here at Horse Guards Parade. I was talking with Kerri Pottharst (2000 Olympic gold medalist) and we said we should start a senior’s tour like golf to be able to play in an incredible city and venue like this one here in London.

There is a beautiful energy here. Huge crowds, and yet really friendly crowds that appreciate both teams. Maybe part of that is that beach volleyball is relatively unknown here in Great Britain and the country doesn’t have much history in competing in our sport.

Every session is nearly a full house and the fans have come to cheer and enjoy and they are doing just that and it is inspiring to see and can give you ‘goose bumps’ to be a part of it all.

We are making history here in London with introducing this sport to an entire nation who are accepting it loudly and very, very, very enthusiastically. You know, the LOCOG theme for this XXX Olympiad is ‘inspire a generation’ and I think we are doing that in a big, big way.

It is very exciting to watch the enthusiasm of the spectators grow with each point scored and although they wanted their British women’s team to win on Sunday, they still respected their opponents. But you could tell how easily they are embracing this sport and I for one hope that it opens new doors for young people to participate in our great sport of beach volleyball.

If you know me, you know I like to talk and since I retired as an active play in 2009 I have been doing a lot of that so it’s been a very natural progression for me to move from the sand to the announcer’s booth.

The teams assembled here in London are so remarkable and from so many different countries it’s great to see the sport developing in some many other parts of the world and I congratulate the FIVB for leading this campaign to introduce beach volleyball to every country in the world.

To me the biggest surprises so far in the women’s tournament have been China losing their first pool play match to the young Russian team and Spain beating the Dutch team. For sure, though, there will be many more, but I won’t be surprised at all when the more experienced veteran teams rise to the top when single-elimination play starts on Friday.

This is a farewell tour for USA’s Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh and they have certainly been great champions and no one is smarter than them during a match. Brazil’s Juliana and Larissa are on fire and neither one of them have forgotten about 2008 when Juliana got injured and Larissa was forced to play with a different player which was very, very tough on both of them.

Looking quickly at the men, Brazil’s Alison and Emanuel are unbelievable and USA’s Dalhausser and Rogers are the thin beast and the professor so I wouldn’t bet against them but don’t forget this is the Olympics and anything can happen.

From Brazil, Sandra is a three-time Olympian, wining gold in the first year for beach volleyball as a medal sport in 1996 in Atlanta with Jackie Silva, bronze with Adriana Samuel in 2000 in Sydney and fifth in Athens with Ana Paula Connelly. She is in London as one of the announcers for the Brazil telecasts of the beach volleyball competition for Globo SportTV.

Kerri Pottharst




July 29, 2012 - First of all, it was amazing to go to the opening ceremony as a spectator after three times walking in it as an athlete for Australia. Great Britain should be congratulated for the superb job they did in putting together an inspiring show that ended with an all-time British music icon and former Beatle, Paul McCartney. The perspective you get as a spectator was significantly different than as an athlete. While your emotions boil over as an athlete walking into the stadium, with everything going on and waiting outside for several hours you don’t see near as much of the pageantry as you do as a spectator so that was something uniquely special for me.

Back to reality as to why we are here on Saturday morning, things got started this morning in the beautiful and big stadium at Horse Guards Parade with a fireworks show that almost rivaled the incredible one at the opening ceremony last night at the Olympic Stadium.

Russia’s Anastasia Vasina and Anna Vozakova lit off some major explosives in coming from behind to defeat the great Chinese team of Chen Xue and Xi Zhang, who are favored to win a medal, if not the gold. Natalie (Cook) and I almost lost our first match in 2000, but we held on and in 2008 American’s Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers did the same, losing their first pool match and still came back to win the gold medal.

For the Russians, they may have been the final team to qualify for the Olympics by winning the FIVB Olympic Qualification Tournament in Moscow a month ago, but they were playing like a team with nothing to lose and the Chinese were extremely tight, abnormally so for them, playing like they had everything to lose.

In the Olympics it’s truly like every match you play is the gold medal match, but only one really is, but the level of play is so elevated that I don’t think this will be the only seed-breakthrough we see in this year’s Olympic Games.

The crowds on Saturday have been huge and with announcers have done a great job educating them on the players and the sport and getting them enthusiastic and involved in the action. It hasn’t taken much encouragement, though, as the once the fans see how great the athleticism and level of play is they have enthusiastically embraced the athletes as if they were from their own country.

The Chinese looked very, very nervous which is very uncharacteristic for them. There were quite a few serves into the bottom of the net many hitting errors in the match. That there were still in a position to be able to win it at the end shows the quality of their team after a very bad day for them. They also looked very tentative in their passing which isn’t like them at all either.

Every now and then they made a good play, but overall they just didn’t look like themselves.

The Russians had no pressure, they had no expectations. They didn’t even realize that they might be in the Olympics until four weeks ago and that’s the beauty of the Olympics. It can put so much pressure on the favourites.

The Russians did lose their focus in the second set but the Chinese couldn’t capitalize on that and take them down. Give credit to the Russians for all they did, especially the big win. The Chinese were trying not to lose the match while the Russians had nothing to lose. Vasina especially was a blocking machine but both she and Vozakova contributed as well for a great, great victory.

This could change things tremendously when pool play is finished if the Chinese aren’t able to come back and win their pool to go into the single-elimination round. This will send a message to a lot of the teams about staying focused.

The crowd was superb and so huge which is great for the sport but now the teams need to not let things overpower them and relax and enjoy the experience.

On the other hand, Germany’s Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler played great beach volley in their match today, winning in two sets with few errors over a good Czech Republic team in Lenka Hajeckova/Hana Klapalova to start their pool play action. Holtwick and Semmler kept putting it away and the Czech’s didn’t have an answer for it. They played with much confidence and yet they were tranquil.

There will be a surprise team like every Olympics, capable of winning a bronze or even better depending on how it all breaks out. The team that I would give a great shot to for being this surprise team, and by surprise I mean not among the favorites, would be the Italians, Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti or maybe even the Dutch women Sanne Keizer and Marleen van Iersel.

If the Chinese don’t win their pool, they have opened the door for another team to be a No. 2 seed when they come out of pool play and go into single-elimination play. That kind of surprise can happen and when it does, it can really change a lot of things for bracket play. This shows that almost anyone in this women’s tournament can push forward and make it into the final four.

Kerri Pottharst is a former Australian beach volleyball and volleyball player and famously won gold along with Nathalie Cook at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games in front of her home fans. She also claimed bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and competed at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. She last played on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour in 2004 but since then has married and had a 5 year old son called Tyson. She is a highly sought after Motivational Speaker as well as spending time on the sand coaching beach volleyball. Most recently, Kerri has released a book titled “The Business of Being an Athlete” a step-by-step guide on how the right attitude, the right tools, and the right approach took her from being a part-time athlete to becoming a multi-award winning champion, a hot property for sponsorship, and a successful entrepreneur. www.kerripottharst.com

Kerri Pottharst


July 28, 2012 - It’s wonderful to be at another Olympic Games especially with the experience I have had as a player and a commentator for Australian television. Retired from indoor and beach volleyball, I spend my time now as a mother, motivational speaker, author (The Business of Being an Athlete: How to Build a Winning Team in Sports) and television commentator for the broadcasts of our national tour on Australian TV.

We are going to be doing full coverage on both of our women’s teams here in London as well as special coverage on other matches as the Games progress. London is such a wonderful location for the Olympic Games and Horse Guards Parade is the most magnificent venue of all for these Olympics, but for beach volleyball, I am still partial to Bondi Beach in Sydney where we won our gold medal in 2000. Horse Guards Parade, though, is definitely second on the list of all-time best Olympic beach volleyball venues.

I am working with another Australian beach volleyball Olympian, three-timer Julien Prosser, and this is our second time around in terms of being a broadcast team and we have learned a lot from our experience in Beijing that I am sure will be helping us here in London.

We actually went to the FIVB SWATCH World Tour event in Klagenfurt last weekend to do our homework in preparing for our telecasts. We certainly know the Australian players well, but we don’t see the other international teams too often in Australia.

We got to see lots of teams. It was good to reconnect with people and catch up on where things are at in their worlds and we learned a lot that will help us do our job better here in London.

We’ll be work together on the broadcasts with me doing the play-by-play for the women and Julien doing it for men’s matches that we do.

Previewing the start of this year’s competition, I am really excited about the teams here in London, especially all the young teams like the Russians and Dutch teams who played for the gold medal in Klagenfurt.

There will be a surprise team like every Olympics, capable of winning a bronze or even better depending on how it all breaks out. The team that I would give a great shot to for being this surprise team, and by surprise I mean not among the favorites, would be the Italians, Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti or maybe even the Dutch women Sanne Keizer and Marleen Van Iersel.

The younger players don’t have the experience at the Olympic level but they are becoming more and more talented as beach programs are being developed and expanded in more and more nations every year which is introducing players are an earlier age to our discipline and not just volleyball which is the traditional path like some many, including me, have taken.

The Olympic season are different on the world tour as teams are trying to qualifying and so many minds are on getting to the Olympics so the psychology is different than a regular season out the tour.

In looking at the women’s top teams, the podium could easily include both of Brazil’s teams-Juliana and Larissa and Maria (Antonelli) and Talita as well as both American teams-Misty (May-Treanor) and Kerri (Walsh) and Jen (Kessy) and April (Ross) obviously along with China’s Xue and Zhang.

The final four can be anybody who handles the pressure and those teams like the Brazilians, Americans and Chinese certainly have the experience and the talent to push through to the podium.

There are a number of teams who could surprise and make it to the final four and my sentimental favorite is Australia’s own Natalie Cook and Tamsin Hinchley. What can be said about Natalie who is the only woman who will be playing beach volleyball in all five of the Olympics where it has been a medal sport. She and I played together for several years. We won a bronze in Atlanta in 1996 and then the amazing gold in front of our home-country fans in Sydney in 2000.

Tamsin can block so well and Natalie plays great defense so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they are knocking on the door.

The medalists will be ones who are experienced or the ones who become experienced in a hurry.

The Americans and the Brazilians have been so strong but there definitely has been a changing of the guard often, especially this year on the world tour.

I’m not as well-versed on the men, but it’s easy to pick Brazil’s Emanuel (Rego) and Alison (Cerutti). USA’s Gibb and Rosenthal have been playing really well this past year and USA’s Dalhassuer and Rogers are the reigning Olympic champions.

The weather could be a factor favoring the teams that are more used to playing in cooler temperatures and rain if it happens, it could change some things up as well.

I can look in players eyes and see if players are ready to play and there are definitely many, many players ready to have at it here in London.

Kerri Pottharst is a former Australian beach volleyball and volleyball player and famously won gold along with Nathalie Cook at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games in front of her home fans. She also claimed bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and competed at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. She last played on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour in 2004 but since then has married and had a 5 yrs old son called Tyson. She is a highly sought after Motivational Speaker as well as spending time on the sand coaching beach volleyball. Most recently, Kerri has released a book titled “The Business of Being an Athlete” a step-by-step guide on how the right attitude, the right tools, and the right approach took her from being a part-time athlete to becoming a multi-award winning champion, a hot property for sponsorship, and a successful entrepreneur. For more information on Kerri visit www.kerripottharst.com or www.thebusinessofbeinganathlete.com