Kerri Pottharst - Team of the Decade

Kerri Pottharst and Natalie Cook (Australia)

This team has made their mark in the big events.

 

They played their first tournament together in July 1995, finishing ninth, then stayed around forth or fifth for the next seven months. But in the final event of the season, in Rio de Janeiro, they broke through the Brazilian stranglehold to claim their first finals appearance.

 

At Beach Volleyball's Olympic debut in Atlanta, they powered home to a victorious bronze medal, which made them instant heroes in their home country. They had their first tournament victory in Osaka one month later, but, even though there were many second and third placings, when they entered the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games it had been four years since their last victory.

 

Again, it was the biggest event of the calendar year that brought out their best. In front of a capacity home-crowd and massive international television audience, they dramatically won the Olympic gold medal.

Jacqueline Silva and Sandra Pires (Brazil)


At a time when beach volleyballers were 'supposed' to be over 190cm to be competitive, this team, one just 162cm, the other a 'towering' 165cm, broke the stereotype. They may have been one of the smallest teams on the World Tour, but their accomplishments were monumental.

 

Jacqueline Silva and Sandra Pires played together in 27 FIVB World Tour events between 1994 and 1997, winning 11, and finishing in the top three in all but one event - were they finished fourth.

 

During 1996, they won six consecutive World Tour events, including, on 27 July, Beach Volleyball's first Olympic gold medal in Atlanta. After this historic win, only Brazil's second ever Olympic gold medal, and its first women's Olympic gold, they were immediately flown back home were tens-of-thousands lined the street to honour the victors. They followed up the next year, again on US soil at the UCLA Tennis Center, Los Angeles by defeating arch rivals, Lisa Arce and Holly McPeak of the USA, to take the 1997 World Championship.

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