Beijing, China, August 7, 2008 - Olympic veteran Ana Paula Connelly will replace Juliana Felisberta Silva as a member of the Brazilian Beach Volleyball team for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games with less than two days before the start of the competition at the Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground.
Juliana earned a berth for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games as the No. 3-ranked team on the qualifying list with Larissa Franca, but had to withdraw late Wednesday due to a right knee injury that occurred almost two months ago in a SWATCH FIVB World Tour Grand Slam stop in Paris.
The top qualifying women’s team from Brazil for the Summer Games, Juliana and Larissa returned to SWATCH FIVB World Tour competition last week in Austria where they won four-straight matches. Juliana and Larissa forfeited a quarter-final meeting with a team from Georgia to place fifth in Klagenfurt.
Upon arriving in Beijing for training sessions at the Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground, Juliana felt pain in her right knee and elected not to continue her preparations with Larissa. With Ana Paula satisfying the required eight participations on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour since May 2007 along with being listed as a replacement player for Beijing, the 36-year old Brazilian was named as Juliana’s replacement after being confirmed by the Brazilian Volleyball Federation BOCOG and the FIVB with final approval from the IOC.
Ana Paula was a standout player on the Brazilian National Volleyball team in the 1990s. She was a member of Brazil's bronze medal Volleyball team at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, and helped the South American country to three Grand Prix championship teams (1994, 1996 and 1998). She was also the most valuable player at the 1994 World Cup.
A winner of three SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medals in Poland, Switzerland and Austria this season with Shelda Bede, Ana Paula will be competing in her second Beach Volleyball Olympics for Brazil after placing fifth at the Athens 2004 Summer Games with Sandra Pires.
Competing on the FIVB Beach Volleyball tour since 1999, Ana Paula has won 11 SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medals with five different partners, including five with Sandra, and one each with Monica Rodrigues, Shaylyn Bede (Shelda’s younger sister) and Leila Barros. Ranking 10th on the all-time earnings list, Ana Paula has competed in 98 FIVB events as she missed the 2001 season due to the birth of her son (Gabriel).
Ana Paula, the top server the past three seasons on the international Beach Volleyball tour, and Sandra were also the 2003 SWATCH FIVB World Tour champions in 2003. Playing with nine different partners, Ana Paula has won 72.4 percent of her international Beach Volleyball matches with 414 wins to rank sixth all-time with Holly McPeak of the United States. Ana Paula and Shelda posted a 59-16 mark together in 13 SWATCH starts together.
Juliana and Larissa rank third all-time on the FIVB list for gold medals (21) and earnings ($1,369,050) behind Brazilians Adriana Behar/Shelda (31 titles and 42,207,965) and Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh of the United States (34 gold medals and $1,540.540) since starting their partnership in 2004. Juliana and Larissa had won 82.8 percent of their matches 9314-65).
The Beach Volleyball competition for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games begins Saturday at the 12,200-seat Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground with the preliminary rounds featuring pool play for the 24 men’s and 24 women’s teams. Elimination competition starts August 15 with the women’s medal matches August 21 and the men’s final two contest August 22.