Olympic Countdown: Athens the cradle of beach volleyball legend

Lausanne, Switzerland, May 26, 2016 - As part of the series in the run-up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games the FIVB looks back at previous Olympic volleyball and beach volleyball tournaments, including the beach volleyball at the 2004 Athens Games.

Lausanne, Switzerland, May 26, 2016 - As part of the series in the run-up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games the FIVB looks back at previous Olympic volleyball and beach volleyball tournaments, including the beach volleyball at the 2004 Athens Games.

Quick links:
Athens 2004 Olympic Games - Men's beach volleyball tournament
Athens 2004 Olympic Games - Women's beach volleyball tournament
Athens 2004 Olympic Games - Men's volleyball tournament
Athens 2004 Olympic Games - Women's volleyball tournament

The 2004 Olympic beach volleyball tournament on Neo Faliro Beach in Piraeus just outside Athens was the coming of age for two of the legendary pairings of the sport.

At the Olympic competition in Sydney four years earlier Emanuel Rego had entered the men’s competition as World No.1 with partner Jose Loiola, but they finished ninth while fellow Brazilians Ricardo Santos and Ze Marco won the silver medal. Ricardo and Emanuel then teamed up and won the World Championship together in 2003.

The newly formed pairing arrived in Athens ranked No.1 in the world, and they proceeded to dominate the competition until the semifinals. There they trailed 10-9 in the deciding set against Swiss pair Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel before coming from behind to win 15-12. The final against Spain’s Javier Bosma and Pablo Herrera was less problematic, the Brazilians easing to a 2-0 (21-16, 21-15) victory.

In 2000 Misty May had competed at the Olympic Games with Holly McPeak, finishing in joint fifth place, while Kerri Walsh was a member of the USA indoor team that finished fourth. In 2001 May and Walsh teamed up and became the dominant pairing in women’s beach volleyball, winning 90 consecutive matches between July 2003 and June 2004, including the 2003 World Championship.

They were finally defeated, however, shortly before the Olympics but there were to be no such upsets in Athens where May and Walsh never lost a set. The first set of the final, against the reigning Olympic silver medallists Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede, was a close affair but the Americans took it and went on to win the match and their first gold medal, 2-0 (21-17, 21-11).

Read about other Olympic tournaments by clicking on the links below:

Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games
Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games
Munich 1972 Olympic Games
Montreal 1976 Olympic Games
Moscow 1980 Olympic Games
Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games
Seoul 1988 Olympic Games
Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games
Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games - Beach volleyball
Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games - Volleyball
Sydney 2000 Olympic Games - Beach volleyball
Sydney 2000 Olympic Games - Volleyball