Olympic Beach Volleyball

The recognition was given to Beach Volleyball as an Olympic discipline at an IOC meeting in Monaco, opening the door for the sport to participate in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Beach Volleyball is now one of the most popular Olympic sports thanks to professional athletes, a healthy and colourful ambience, exciting competition and entertainment, and the equal treatment of men and women.

Atlanta 1996
Atlanta 1996 was the first Olympic Beach Volleyball competition and it was a memorable start. Twenty four men's teams and 18 women's teams competed for Olympic medals on Atlanta Beach in July in a 10,000-seat stadium, with more than 107,000 spectators selling out the six-day event. Some 600 athletes representing 42 countries took part in the Olympic qualifying process. The United States' Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes won the first men's gold medals and Brazil's Jackie Silva and Sandra Pires won the first women's gold medals. Kiraly had previously won two Olympic Games gold medals in indoor Volleyball at the 1984 Los Angeles Games and the Seoul Games in 1988. In the men's tournament, USA's Mike Dodd and Mike Whitmarsh picked up silver and Canada's John Child and Mark Heese won bronze. In the women's tournament, Mnica Rodrigues and Adriana Samuel of Brazil claimed silver and Australia's Natalie Cook and Kerri-Ann Pottharst won bronze.

Sydney 2000
Four years after the overwhelming success of the first Olympic experience, Beach Volleyball become even more of a hit. The top 24 men's and women's teams in the world competed on Bondi Beach in a wonderful stadium seating 10,000 spectator, with modern facilities offering a top-class event to the Olympic family of players, fans, media and sponsors. Teams from more than 50 countries took part in the qualifying process. Cook and Pottharst improved on their bronze in 1996 to claim gold in the women's competition, with Brazilian pairs Adriana Behar and Shelda and Sandra Pires and Adriana Samuel taking home silver and bronze, respectively. In the men's event, USA's Dain Blanton and Eric Fonoimoana won gold, Brazil's Ze Marco and Ricardo silver and Germany's Jrg Ahmann and Axel Hager bronze.

Athens 2004
With its new 10,000-seat main stadium built in the style of a traditional Greek amphitheatre, the Beach Volleyball venue and its surroundings provided an amazingly entertaining atmosphere at the Athens Games in 2004. For the first time in an Olympic Games, an entertainment programme was implemented with the involvement of 12 dancers, DJs, multilingual announcements and production managers. More than 60 countries took part in the qualifying process, with 24 men's and women's competing in Athens. Brazil's Ricardo and Emanuel won men's gold, with Spain's Javier Bosma and Pablo Herrera winning silver and Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel taking bronze. In the women's event, USA's Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh won gold, Brazil's Adriana Behar and Shelda silver and USA's Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs bronze.

Beijing 2008
The fourth Olympic Beach Volleyball competition at Beijing 2008 again saw 24 women's and 24 men's teams competing against each other, this time over 14 days (after six continuous days in Atlanta, 10 days in Sydney and 12 in Athens) of action-packed fun on the sand. There were a total of 108 matches, comprising 54 men's and 54 women's matches. The 12,000-seat Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground was the stunning venue for the Olympic Beach Volleyball Tournaments. May-Treanor and Walsh won their second straight Olympic gold, beating Chinese pairs Jia Tian and Jie Wang and Zhang Xi and Xue Chen into second and third place, the two pairs collecting China's first-ever Beach Volleyball Olympic medals. Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers made it a USA double on the sand with gold in the men's event, with Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes of Brazil finishing second and Emanuel and Ricardo claiming third.

London 2012 ...
Olympic Beach Volleyball in 2012 will have another spectacular setting: Horse Guards Parade, just off Whitehall in central London, will be hosting the competition.


USA's Karch Kiraly dives at Atlanta 1996

Sandra Pires in action at Sydney 2000

Ricardo Santos spikes at Athens 2004

Kerri Walsh receives at Beijing 2008