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Emanuel and Alison given fright by Austrian duo

Emanuel (right) and Alison had to dig deep to avoid an opening match loss in London

London, Great Britain, July 29, 2012 – FIVB world champions and number one seeds Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti came close to a shock loss to Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst in their opening match at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The Austrians were fired up for the first set and went 1-0 ahead, but the Brazilians fought back and while they were pushed hard till the end the 2011 FIVB SWATCH World Tour champions finished with a 19-21, 21-17, 16-14 at Horse Guards Parade.

“Matches at the Olympics Games are always like this,” Emanuel said. “We haven’t played them at all this year so we don’t know much about them, but they seemed to know a lot about us.

“In the first set we made a few mistakes and they had a very strong serve. They threw everything at him (Alison) and he did well in the second set. He had three pressure points and at 14-14 he changed the match.”

Second gold

Emanuel is in London with the sole intention of adding a second gold medal to the one he won with Ricardo Santos at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

One of the men he defeated in that final in Athens, Pablo Herrera, also began with a win. He and Adrian Gavira beat the Czech Republic’s Petr Benes and Premysl Kubala 25-23, 21-16. It is the first time that they have competed since the smart Grand Slam, Rome in early June as he has been trying to overcome an injury to his right knee.

“It’s ok, but not quite right,” Herrera said. “I have had a month without playing and just having physiotherapy on it, but I am confident that it will be ok.”

Olympic debut

In 2004 Herrera played alongside Javier Bosma and then Raul Mesa in Beijing 2008. For Gavira it is his first Olympic Games though he managed to hide any nerves on his Olympic debut.

“There wasn’t much to say to him, because his he is so confident and not nervous at all,” Herrera said. “Playing in an Olympics is a dream for any player and it was important to start with a victory.”

The Spanish women’s team also got London 2012 off to a winning start. They were at their best to defeat reigning European champions Sanne Keizer and Marleen van Iersel 14-21, 21-16, 15-11.

“It was a very good win, Elsa Baquerizo McMillan said. “The first set we made too made errors and they served, very, very well and we did not get our confidence.

Growing confidence

“In the second set we started to grow in confidence and we got it. It’s great to win at the Olympics, but is a long tournament.”

Italians Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti were the fourth team to win in the opening session of the beach volleyball tournament. The 2011 European champions recovered from an opening set loss to beat Russia’s Evgeniya Ukolova and Ekaterina Khomyakova 17-21, 21-18, 15-8.

“It was very emotional for us,” Cicolari said. “It was the hardest game of our pool against a team that are really strong on the World Tour. We played well and we are really, really happy because we can play more relaxed now.”

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