Friday, January 25, 2008

Nov. 4, 2007
The FIVB contributed to this release
May-Treanor and Walsh Defeat Branagh and Youngs in Phuket Final
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – In an all-American, three-set battle, reigning Olympic and three-time world champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh defeated Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs on Sunday and tied the international beach volleyball mark for most team gold medals by winning the US$200,000 Phuket Thailand Open powered by ptt.
With a 2-1 (21-18, 16-21 and 15-13 win in 58 minutes over fourth-seeded Branagh (Orinda, Calif.) and Elaine Youngs (El Toro, Calif.), top-ranked May-Treanor (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Walsh (Santa Clara, Calif.) secured the $32,000 first-place prize while capturing their 31st SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medal to tie the record established by Brazil’s Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede.

“This was not our best tournament of the year,” said the 29-year old Walsh, who saw her team drop three sets in the Phuket Thailand Open competition to teams from Ukraine, Brazil and the United States. “Competing against Nicole and Elaine is always tough since we have played them so many times in the last 14 months. Nicole had by far her best tournament and we are very fortunate to win today.”
The Phuket Open was the eighth FIVB match of the season for both the teams of May-Treanor and Walsh and Branagh and Youngs. This means both teams now have the minimum number of FIVB finishes required to qualify for the 2008 Olympics. May-Treanor and Walsh rank first on the Olympic list (5,780) for their best eight finishes on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour. Branagh and Youngs are the second-ranked U.S. team and sixth overall on the Beijing list with 3,700 points.
In defeating Branagh and Youngs for the fifth-straight time on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, May-Treanor and Walsh have a 15-2 edge in the series with their American rivals with both Branagh and Youngs’ victories being on the AVP Tour earlier this season. Counting both FIVB and AVP Tour wins, May-Treanor and Walsh finished the season with 20 titles for 23 events with a 129-4 match mark.
Branagh and Youngs finished the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour season with three-straight podium placements. The $22,000 second-place prize for the Phuket Thailand Open silver medal their best international finish together. The Americans were playing their ninth match of the tournament on Sunday after losing in the second-round Thursday to Tyra Turner (Fort Meyers Beach, Fla.) and Rachel Wacholder (Laguna Beach, Calif.). Branagh and Youngs fought their way back through the contenders’ bracket to advance to the semifinals.
Sunday’s gold medal victory was the 41st-straight SWATCH win this season for May-Treanor and Walsh, who won seven of their eight FIVB starts this season with a 53-1 match mark and $309,500 in earnings. The Americans’ only FIVB setback was in the semifinals at the Norwegian grand slam in Stavanger where China’s Jia Tian and Jie Wang defeated them, 21-19, 21-19.

May-Treanor, who was named the SWATCH most outstanding player for the Phuket Thailand Open, also extends her record for most women’s FIVB gold medals by a women’s player with her 34 title in 68 international Beach Volleyball starts. Three of her gold medals were with Holly McPeak in 2000. Walsh has 33 SWATCH titles in 59 FIVB events with two gold medals in 2004 with Wacholder when May-Treanor was sidelined with an abdominal strain.
Second-seeded Jian Tian and Jie Wang of China captured the bronze medal and the $16,000 third-place prize with a 21-18 and 21-15 win in 38 minutes over 14th-seeded Rieke Brink-Abeler and Hella Jurich of Germany, who were appearing in their first ever international Beach Volleyball semi-final. The Germans split $12,000 for fourth-place.
The 2008 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour is scheduled to start at the end of March with an inaugural event in Adelaine, Australia. A total of 13 women’s Olympic qualifying events are on the provisional SWATCH calendar until the qualifying period ends on July 20, 2008. The Beijing 2008 Olympic Beach Volleyball competition will be held Aug. 9-22 at the Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground.
More information and photos are available on the FIVB web site at
Jan. 3, 2008
U.S. Men Pursue Olympic Qualification in Puerto Rico
The U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team departed on Wednesday night for Caguas, Puerto Rico, where it will compete at the 2008 Men’s Continental Olympic Qualification Championship on Jan. 6-11.
The tournament is the second chance for the U.S. Men to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. The first chance was at the 2007 FIVB World Cup, where the U.S. Men finished fourth. Only the winner of the NORCECA qualifier will go to Beijing.
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U.S. Women’s National Training Team and Invitation-Only Tryouts Start Jan. 7
USA Volleyball has invited 14 athletes to an invitation-only U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team tryout to be held Jan. 7-12, 2008, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Four other athletes have already been invited to train with the U.S. Women’s National Team that runs concurrently with the tryout.
Based on past performances with the U.S. Women’s National Team, Nebraska middle blocker Tracy Stalls (Denver, Colo.), Stanford middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.) and Florida setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) will begin training full-time with Team USA on Jan. 7, while Stanford outside hitter Cynthia Barboza (Long Beach, Calif.) will join the team in March 2008.
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Thursday, January 24, 2008

USA Olympic Stories

The Road to Beijing will be fraught with roadblocks for many of the US Olympic hopefuls. The daily grind on the body alone can wear out the psyche, but add into the mix rips, tears, sprains and surgeries and you have an athlete who is not only emotionally exhausted but physically challenged as well.

Over the past five months I have interviewed many of the US athletes here in Southern California and a theme is developing rapidly that differentiates them from the professional ahletes that I find myself with often. Emotion. The Road to Beijing is paved with emotion.

Entering into the Olympic arena for the Opening Ceremonies is a path that only a chosen few out of our 9 billion on this planet will ever take. To represent one's country in peaceful competition can create goosebumps on the arms of even the average spectator. Every step along the road becomes larger than life and the athetes carry our hearts with them as they struggle to overcome human weakness and rise to win the coveted Holy Grail, the Olympic Gold Medal. Through them we realize our Olympic dream, for one brief moment in time, our Olympians hold our nation in a grip of a fever, we are overcome with emotion by the beauty of athletic performance and we are one.

On August 8th at 8:08:08 in 2008, The Beijing Games open and the eyes of the world will be watching. For that breif moment, humanity exhibits achievement that will bring tears to the eyes of even the casual sports fan. Dreams will shatter, hearts will break, but for a chosen few, Gold. Silver. Bronze.

I am writing this blog because I produce and report for a show called, "The Road to Beijing" which is distrbuted by IEC in Sports in Stockholm, Sweden. Every week I am with an Olympic hopeful. I wanted to pass on my insights into our Olympians for anyone who might be interested in learning from them on how to find their inner Gold.