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Brazil men's beach volleyball duo seeks to repeat glory
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Athens Olympic champions Ricardo Santos and Emanuel Rego looks forward to repeat their glory in Beijing for Brazil, which has dominated the fan-favorite sport for more than a decade along with the United States.

Gold medal winners Emanuel Rego (L) and Ricardo Santos in AthensOlympics.

Santos, 33, who began his career as a beach volleyball player at 19 and claimed a silver medal in the Sydney Olympics in 2000, is dubbed "the Block Machine" due to his efficiency at the net.

By 2000, Santos and his former partner Ze Marco de Melo were one of the two top-ranked teams in the world.

Since beginning cooperation with Rego in 2002, Santos and his partner have been pretty consistent, winning 24 FIVB events, including 23 World Tour gold medals and the 2003 World Championships in Rio de Janeiro.

The tandem duo were FIVB Tour Champion for four straight years since 2003 and was honored the FIVB Team of the Year in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

This time in Beijing, they face biggest challenges from the United States and a pair of their compatriots.

The Brazilians were placed second in the qualifying standing for the Beijing Olympics, falling behind the 2007 world champions, American Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser, who are eyeing to pocket the gold medal in Beijing.

"The Americans are a very competitive team that blends the blocking and hitting of Dalhausser with the excellent defense of Rogers," said Rego.

Marcio Araujo/Fabio Luiz are the other Brazilian pair, who're dubbed another tough opponents by Rego, while teams from China, the Netherlands, Germany and Russia are also believed to be strong.

But with the momentum of winning in world-class events in the past years, the reigning champions duo appeared confident.

"I like the big challenges," said Rego, who tracked down almost every shot from the rivals in the final in Athens Olympics.

(Xinhua News Agency July 28, 2008)

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