Lausanne, February 26, 2008 - With the 2008 SWATCH FIVB World Tour season-opening event less than one month away, more than 140 teams from 37 countries have entered the US$350,000 Adelaide Australia Open.
The first of 16 double gender events on the 2008 SWATCH FIVB World Tour calendar, Adelaide Australia Open will be staged March 25-30 on Glenelg Beach as the South Australian stop starts the 2008 international Beach Volleyball campaign that covers a nine-month period ending in November in China. The Adelaide Australia Open marks the start of the 22nd season of men's FIVB Beach Volleyball competition and the 17th for women.
The Adelaide Australia Open is also the first qualifying event this season for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games where the process continues through July 20 when the 24 teams for each gender's competition will be determined following an event in Marseille, France. A team’s top eight finishes on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour since May 2007 will count towards Olympic qualification.
Australia will also be hosting its first FIVB-sanctioned event since 2001 when Brisbane hosted the Goodwill Games competition where teams from Brazil captured the men’s (Jose Loiola/Ricardo Santos) and women’s (Tatiana Minello/Sandra Pires) gold medals.
Ricardo and Sandra have both entered the Adelaide Australia Open, but with different partners as the men's competition list features 75 teams from 31 countries while the 66 women's teams are from 29 countries. Ricardo teams with Emanuel Rego as the pair forms the winningest men's team in SWATCH history with 31 gold medals in 70 FIVB starts. Sandra, a two-time Olympic medalist, will be competing for the first-time with Leila Barros.
In addition to host Australia and Brazil, other countries entering teams in the Adelaide Australia Open (as of February 26, 2008) are Angola, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Ukraine, the United States, Vanuatu and Venezuela.
Australia has entered 10 teams in each competition led by two-time Olympic medallist Natalie Cook, and 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Championship podium placers Andrew Schacht and Joshua Slack. Cook teamed with Kerri Pottharst in claiming the gold medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympics after capturing the bronze medal at the Atlanta 1996 Summer Games.
After a four-season partnership with Nicole Sanderson that featured a bronze medal at the 2003 SWATCH FIVB World Championships in Rio and a fourth-place finish at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, Cook teamed with Tamsin Barnett to start the Beijing 2008 qualifying process. Cook and Barnett won Australia’s first SWATCH gold medal in nearly six seasons by capturing the Korean title last May in Seoul and combine to earn $103,400 together in 2007.
Schacht and Slack enter 2008 after compiling their best campaign totals last year, including a bronze medal finish at the SWATCH FIVB World Championships in the Swiss Alps where the Aussie pair defeated Emanuel and Ricardo for the third spot on the Gstaad podium. In 10 FIVB starts in 2007, Schacht and Slack had five top nine finishes with a silver medal finish in Canada and $110,700 in earnings.
The Adelaide Australia Open starts with qualifying March 25 with the "money" rounds beginning March 27. The semi-finals will be played March 29 with the medal matches March 30 where the winning teams will share the $28,000 first-place prizes.
Following the Adelaide Australia Open, the SWATCH FIVB World Tour takes a four-week break before resuming competition in Shanghai for the fifth annual China Shanghai Jinshan Open for both men and women. The event will be staged April 28 through May 4 and starts a run of 10-straight weeks of SWATCH FIVB World Tour competition in Asia and Europe.