London, Great Britain, August 5, 2012 – Monday will be the men’s quarterfinals night and in the first four Olympic Games as a medal sport several lower-seeded teams finished in the men’s beach volleyball final four.
Tomorrow there will be teams from Italy and Latvia that will be attempting to earn that coveted spot on the road to the gold medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games beach volleyball competition at Horse Guards Parade in central London.
With the men’s field being reduced to four on Monday night, a total 24 men’s beach volleyball teams from 19 countries started playing in London on July 28 in the purpose-built, sold-out 15,000-seat stadium on the grounds of the iconic Horse Guards Parade as the majestic venue also includes a portion of adjacent St. James Park in historic central London.
The men’s quarterfinal matches will be held on Monday in two sessions with two quarters in each session, the first starting at 6 p.m. and the second session for the final two quarterfinals starting at 10 p.m. The quarterfinal winners will advance to Tuesday’s semifinals that will be held along with the women’s semis.
Monday four men’s quarterfinals in the stadium at Horse Guards Parade will start first at 6 p.m. with Brazil’s top-seeded 2011 FIVB SWATCH World Champions and 2011 FIVB SWATCH World Tour champs Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego playing against Poland’s ninth Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel.
In the 7 p.m. quarterfinal, USA’s fourth-seeded Jake Gibb/Sean Rosenthal will take on Latvia’s 17th-seeded Martins Plavins/Janis Smedins. Starting the late evening session at 10 p.m. Monday will be Germany’s third-seeded Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann, 2009 FIVB SWATCH World Champions taking on Brazil’s seventh-seeded Pedro Cunha/Ricardo Santos, Richardo being a four-time Olympian. In the final quarterfinal match at 11 p.m., Netherlands’ fifth-seeded Nummerdor/Richard Schuil will battle against Italy’s 13th-seeded Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai, who upset USA’s defending Olympic gold medalists Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers in the round of 16.
Don’t count out Italy or Latvia for the Men’s Medals
Two improbable teams have emerged in the final eight in the men’s competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Few would have expected Latvia’s Plavins/Smedins to win pool E with a perfect 3-0 record or Italy‘s 13th-seeded Lupo/ Nicolai, who had to advance out of pool play by winning a play-in match for the third through sixth third place teams in pool play, to upset USA‘s defending gold medalists Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers in the round of 16.
Final Four in Atlanta
In the very first edition in Atlanta it was Joao Brenha and Miguel Maia from Portugal who finished 4th despite being the 18th seed in a 24 team field. In the Olympic Games, after losing their match in the second round to the USA’s Carl Henkel and the legendary Sinjin Smith, they fought their way back through the contender’s bracket. Along the way they defeated a laundry list of well-known and higher-seeded opponents like Martin Conde/Eduardo Martinez from Argentina, Ze Marco/Emanuel from Brazil, Jan Kvalheim/Bjorn Maaseide from Norway, and then Henkel and Smith in a rematch to reach the semifinals where they eventually lost both remaining matches.
Gold, bronze and fourth in Sydney
As if to prove that Atlanta wasn’t a fluke, Brenha and Maia repeated their performance in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games with another 4th place finish as the 12th seed. As amazing as that story is, Sydney had two even bigger surprises in Jorg Ahmann/Axel Hager of Germany winning the bronze medal as the 15th seed and 9th-seeded Americans Dain Blanton/Eric Fonoimoana winning the gold.
Silver and fourth in Athens
The Athens 2004 Olympic Games also had two lower-seeded teams work their way into the final four. Australia’s Julien Prosser and Mark Williams finished fourth as the 17th seed, and 15th-seeded Javier Bosma/Pablo Herrera from Spain won the silver medal. Both pairs also capitalized on a lucky draw, the Australians defeating the 19th and 11th seeds while the Spaniards beat the 16th and 20th seeds on the way to their meeting in the semifinals where Spain prevailed before losing the gold medal match.
Final Four in Beijing
In the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games it was the fourth place finish of 15th-seeded Renato “Geor” Gomes and Jorge “Gia” Terceiro, whose nicknames cleverly spell out the country they represent, Georgia that surprised everyone. The Georgians finished with only one win in their three pool play matches, and also got a favorable matchup in the round of 16 against the 16th-seed before they upset the 5th-seeded team from the Netherlands, 2012 Olympians Reinder Nummerdor/Richard Schuil, to make the semifinals.
Repeat in London?
Looking at the competition for the London 2012 Olympic Games, five teams from the men’s field of 24 qualified through a “Continental Cup” process which let the individual Confederations (Africa, Asia and Australia, Europe, North and Central America, and South America) determine their own representatives along with two additional from a special qualifying FIVB World Cup Olympic Qualification Tournament between the second and third place finishing nations in the Continental Cup Finals.
Along with the host country’s entry, eight of the 24 teams in the field were not ranked in the top 16 of the Olympic rankings making the probability of a lower seed getting into the final four much lower than the four previous Olympics. While none of these eight teams reached the final eight, the Latvians and Italians are just one match away from defying those odds.
The 17th-seeded Latvians do have one silver medal on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour, but it was two years ago in July of 2010. In the ten events they played in the year leading up to the Olympics, they have not finished better than ninth (five times) and have two 13ths, two 17ths, and a 25th place finish.
The Italians have fared better in their 11 events in the last year, with a silver, bronze, and fourth place finish, but they also have been inconsistent with two 17ths and two 25ths.
The Olympics are all about reaching your potential at the right time and possibly more names will be added to that elite seed breakthrough list in the final four of these London 2012 Olympic Games.
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