London 2012
The Italians qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games at the final tournament of the Olympic qualification cycle, in front of their home fans in Rome
Nicolai and Lupo are the first men's Italian team to ever compete at an Olympic Games beach volleyball tournament
Nicolai and Lupo have won two medals in 2012. Silver at the Beijing Grand Slam and bronze at the Gstaad Grand Slam
“For me Phil and Todd are my favourite team. When I started to play beach volleyball I wanted to be like them. To beat them is great, but I’m a little bit sad about it,” Daniele Lupo
Lupo and Nicolai have beaten Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser three times in 2012, including the bronze medal match at the Gstaad Grand Slam
Nicolai and Lupo began their run at Olympic qualification at the 2011 Stare Jablonki Grand Slam

 

Lupo and Nicolai enjoy bitter sweet victory

London, Great Britain, August 4, 2012 – Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai’s win over defending Olympic champions Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser may have been their career highlight, but it meant they had to beat two of their heroes to progress at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The Italians won 21-17, 21-19  to reach the quarter-finals on their Olympic debut, while the loss at Horse Guard’s Parade brought an end to the US duo’s Olympic career, with Rogers confirming that he would not carry on to Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
 
As well as winning gold at Beijing 2008, they were FIVB world champions in 2007 and have won 17 gold medals on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour to leave them as one of the standard bearers of men’s beach volleyball.

“For me Phil and Todd are my favourite team,” Lupo said. “When I started to play beach volleyball I wanted to be like them. To beat them is great, but I’m a little bit sad about it. It would have been great to have beaten them later in the tournament.”

“They are still stronger than us and remain an example for us,” Nicolai added. “I hope we can get somewhere close to matching what they have done in recent years.”

Nicolai and Lupo are one of the newer partnerships on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour and while they had played together previously it wasn’t until the 2011 Stare Jablonki Grand Slam that they made a run at Olympic qualification.

They cut it fine though and only secured qualification at the final tournament of the Olympic qualification cycle in Rome. Even then though they had a nervous wait after they were knocked out at the pool stage and had to wait and see if Norwegians Tarjei Skarlund and Martin Spinnangr could reach the quarter-finals. When they were knocked out at the round of 16, the Italians had their ticket to London.

Rome experience

“If we didn’t have the experience of Rome we wouldn’t have done what we did here,” Nicolai said. “It was a test of us under pressure and we could see how we played and served when the pressure was on.

“It was good for us here in London to make sure we got everything correct and have some idea of playing under the spotlight and with the pressure on.”

In their first tournament after qualifying, in Gstaad, they served notice of what was to come when they defeated Rogers and Dalhausser in the bronze medal match. It was the second time they had beaten the Americans in 2012 and they also have the scalp of FIVB world champions Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti under their belts.

The bronze in Gstaad was their second medal of the year. They also won silver at the Beijing Grand Slam.

“We have played them three time and we probably had our best matches on the Tour against them,” Nicolai said. “Even so it is the Olympics and it is a different match and they were the Olympic champions so to win against them is great.

“We didn’t have fear, but when we saw we were playing Rogers and Dalhausser we knew we would have to have the perfect match or we would go home.”

 

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“They are still stronger than us and remain an example for us. I hope we can get somewhere close to matching what they have done in recent years,” Paolo Nicolai pays tribute to Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers
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Additional information

FIVB SWATCH World Tour 2012
Beijing Grand Slam - silver
Gstaad Grand Slam - bronze
Olympic Games debut