Klagenfurt, Austria, July 23, 2016 - For the fourth-straight quadrennial, the Klagenfurt stop on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour will host the final international beach volleyball event prior to the Olympic Games.
When the $800,000 A1 Major Klagenfurt officially opens here Tuesday with the women’s qualification tournament, a total of 24 men’s and women’s pairs bound for Copacabana and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will be in the field for the fourth of five Swatch Major Series events on the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour calendar.
Klagenfurt also hosted the final men’s and women’s FIVB World Tour event prior to the Athens 2004, the Beijing 2008 and the London 2012 Summer Games. In only one of those events, the men’s 2004 Austrian stop, did the eventual Olympic champions win the Klagenfurt event prior to the quadrennial!
Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos, the 2004 Olympic champions, found success in Klagenfurt prior to the Athens Summer Games as the legendary Brazilian pair defeated compatriots Franco Neto and Tande Ramos 2-1 (17-21, 21-16, 15-10) in the 61-minute Wörthersee finale. To reach the 2004 Klagenfurt finale, Emanuel and Ricardo defeated Athens-bound Christoph Dieckmann and Andreas Scheuerpflug of Germany 2-1 (17-21, 21-16, 15-11) in a 56-minute semifinal match.
The 2004 Klagenfurt women’s finale just missed being an Athens scene-setter as three of the four players in gold medal match on the Wörthersee center count that August 1 would appear 23 days later in the Greek Olympic championship match.
With American Misty May-Treanor sidelined with an abdominal strain, Rachel Wacholder (now Scott) teamed with Kerri Walsh Jennings to defeat Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede of Brazil for the Klagenfurt gold medal with a 2-0 (21-13, 21-7) in 36 minutes. In the Athens 2004 finale, May-Treanor reunited with Walsh Jennings to win their first of three Olympic gold medals by defeating Adriana and Shelda 2-0 (21-17, 21-11) in the 42-minute Summer Games finale.
Prior to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, the teams of Dmitri Barsouk/Igor Kolodinsky of Russia and Shelda/Ana Paula Connolly captured the top spots on the men’s and women’s Klagenfurt podiums, respectively. In Beijing, the Russians placed ninth after being eliminated by Emanuel and Ricardo 2-1 (18-21, 25-23, 15-12). Barsouk and Kolodinsky served several times to win the 61-minute match before falling to the eventual 2008 Olympic bronze medal winners.
While the 2008 Klagenfurt women’s winners did not qualify for 2008 quadrennial after finishing third among Brazilian teams in the Olympic qualifying process, Ana Paula did replace Juliana Felisberta as Larissa Franca’s partner in Beijing as the pair placed fifth.
After injuring her knee at the 2008 FIVB Paris stop in June, Juliana attempted to comeback in Klagenfurt with Larissa. The pair finished fifth in the Wörthersee competition with Juliana forfeiting her last match. Several days later in Beijing, Juliana withdrew and Ana Paula was called in late to play with Larissa in the 2008 Olympics.
The gold medal teams at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games did not compete in Klagenfurt prior to the quadrennial. With an American sweep of the top spots on the podium in Beijing, the teams of Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers and May-Treanor/Walsh Jennings captured the gold medals in the Chinese capital.
Marcio Araujo and Fabio Luiz Magalhaes, who placed ninth in the 2008 Klagenfurt stop, lost to Dalhausser and Rogers in the Beijing finale as the Brazilians dropped a 2-1 (23-21, 17-21, 15-4) decision in 65 minutes to the Americans in the finale. The 2008 Beijing women’s silver (Jia Tian/Jie Wang) and bronze (Xue/Zhang) medal winners from China did not compete in Klagenfurt that season.
In 2012, the London-bound men’s and women’s pairs of Reinder Nummerdor/Richard Schuill of the Netherlands and Ekaterina Birlova/Evgeniya Ukolova of Russia topped the Klagenfurt podiums. The Dutch finished fourth after losing to eventual London gold medal winners Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann of Germany 2-0 (21-14, 21-16) in a 39-minute semifinal match.
Brink and Reckermann placed fifth in the 2012 Klagenfurt stop with one of their elimination victories over Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins of Latvia, who captured the bronze medal together in London. The Latvians dropped a 2-0 (21-15, 22-20) London semifinal match in 41 minutes to Emanuel and Alison Cerutti. Two days later, the Brazilians lost 2-1 (23-21, 16-21, 16-14) to Brink and Reckermann in the 61-minute 2012 London Olympic gold medal match.
Birlova and Ukolova placed ninth in London after finishing second in their pool. The Russians dropped a 2-0 (21-12, 21-11) elimination match in 30 minutes to Chen Xue and Xi Zhang of China, who placed fourth in London after winning the bronze medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.