Lausanne, June 16, 2008 - With record-setting performances by the reigning Olympic champions this past weekend in Berlin, the SWATCH FIVB World Tour returns to Paris for the fourth-straight year as only four events remain on the schedule before the close of the qualifying process for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
The US$600,000 Henkel Grand Chelem will be played on the Champ de Mars within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower with Americans Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh and Emanuel Rego/Ricardo Santos of Brazil the featured teams after each tandem claimed their 32nd SWATCH FIVB World Tour in the Germany capital over the weekend.
The 25th of 28 qualifying events for women and the 26th of 29 qualifying stops for men for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, the Henkel Grand Chelem will stage Country Quota matches Monday for women and Tuesday for men. The qualifiers will be Tuesday for women and Wednesday for men to determine the final eight Main Draw spots.
The Henkel Grand Chelem "money" rounds begin Wednesday for women and Thursday for men. The semi-finals for both genders will be played Saturday with the medal matches Sunday as each gold-medal team shares the $43,500 first-place prizes for the second of six SWATCH FIVB World Tour Grand Slam events in 2008.
In addition to increased prize money at the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Grand Slam stops, additional points will be awarded for each placement ranging from 24 points for 41st-place to 800 points for a gold-medal finish. At an "open" FIVB event, 600 points is awarded for placing first and 18 points for 41st place.
Both May-Treanor/Walsh and Emanuel/Ricardo are the defending Henkel Grand Chelem champions after defeating teams from China and Brazil, respectively, for the 2007 titles. Entering last week's stop in Berlin, both teams were tied for the most team SWATCH gold medals with the legendary Brazilian women's team of Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede.
May-Treanor and Walsh were first to break the deadlock with a 21-18 and 22-20 win over Jia Tian and Jie Wang of China in the Berlin finale this past Saturday after defeating three-time SWATCH FIVB World Tour point's champions Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca of Brazil in the semi-finals. With the two wins Saturday, May-Treanor and Walsh also extended their FIVB winning streak to 48-straight victories to set another SWATCH mark.
Emanuel and Ricardo tied May-Treanor and Walsh the next day in the German capital by posting a 25-27, 21-19 and 15-13 win over Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers of the United States in the gold-medal final. Dalhausser and Rogers, the 2007 SWATCH FIVB World champions, were playing the Brazilians for the fourth time for an international gold medal with the Brazilians now winning three times.
While May-Treanor and Walsh have won their 32 FIVB titles in 56 international starts together since 2001, Emanuel and Ricardo's SWATCH count was achieved in 76 events since the end of the 2002 season. For SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold-medal matches, the Americans are 32-9 with Emanuel and Ricardo 32-10. May-Treanor and Walsh have appeared in all three Henkel Grand Chelem women's finals by splitting the first two gold medals with Juliana and Larissa with a 2005 win and a 2006 setback to the Brazilians.
Following the Henkel Grand Chelem, SWATCH FIVB World Tour Grand Slam stops will be held in Norway (Stavanger), Moscow, Switzerland (Gstaad) and Austria (Klagenfurt) prior to the Beijing 2008 Olympics. The Stavanger and Moscow stops are part of the Summer Games process with the final qualifying event set for July 15-20 in Marseille, France.
The Gstaad and Klagenfurt Grand Slams will be tune ups for the Summer Games in the Chinese capital where competition will be held August 9-22. The women's Olympic medal matches will be played August 21 and the men's August 22. Both Beijing fields will feature 24 teams with no more than two pairs per country.
A team's best eight finishes on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour since May 2007 will be used to determine a tandem's Olympic ranking. For European teams, one of the pair's two finishes in the 2007 or 2008 continental championships can be counted. The 2008 European championships will be held in Hamburg, Germany, in mid-July.