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USA and Brazil set for beach battles

America and Brazil, two nations blessed with more sand and sun than most, will resume their battle for beach volleyball domination.

india Updated: Jul 25, 2008 18:49 IST

America and Brazil, two nations blessed with more sand and sun than most, will resume their battle for beach volleyball domination in Beijing after virtually monopolising gold in previous editions.

Since the television-friendly sport made its Games bow in Atlanta in 1996, Americans have won the men's event twice with Brazil taking gold in Athens in 2004.

In the women's section, Brazil were champions in 1996, the United States in 2004 with Australia breaking the stranglehold on home sand in 2000.

Brazil and the United States have also swept up seven of the 12 silver and bronzes.

But that's not to say the sport isn't without surprises. In Athens, the American men's team finished out of the medals while landlocked Switzerland, better known for its snow and mountains, snatched bronze.

Ricardo Santos and Emanuel Rego won the men's gold for Brazil in 2004, but this time round the Americans believe that their teaming of Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers can restore the country to the top.

They joined up in 2006 and last year became the first American duo to win the world title beating Santos and Rego in the semi-finals.

Swiss-born Dalhausser believes they have the perfect working relationship.

"We're both low-key and keep to ourselves. I think we're both level-headed and I think that's huge because guys get fired up and then they try to pound the ball into the sand," he said.

America will be slight favourites to retain the women's gold with Athens champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh still the country's top-ranked pair.

In 2004, they put together win streaks of 15 consecutive tournaments and 91 consecutive matches, streaks that ended just before the Olympics.

"It's different this time," said May-Treanor.

"Everybody is improving and getting better, and so are we. The game is at a higher level now and we're getting challenges from all over the place."

Their main challengers will be Brazil's Shelda Bede, a silver medallist in 2000 and 2004.

Bede played with Adriana Behar on both occasions but, in Beijing, is expected to team with Ana Paula Connelly.

The South Americans also have high hopes for 20-year-old Rio native Carolina Solberg Salgado who already has gold medals at world Under-18 and Under-21 level.

The beach volleyball competition will be held at the Chaoyang Park Beach volleyball ground from August 9-22.