Olympic heroines win opening round - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Olympic heroines win opening round

25/11/2002 06:38:09 AM Comments (0)

Olympic gold medal heroines Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst dominated the opening round of the Australian Beach Volleyball Tour at Coffs Harbour.

A crowd of 5,000 took advantage of perfect conditions on Sunday to watch the men's and women's finals series.

Cook and Pottharst cruised to the finals, and continued their dominance with a straight sets final win (21-17, 21-12) against fellow Australians Angela Clarke and Pauline Manser.

"We played very hard today," said Pottharst.

"Nat and I were 110 per cent focussed and we didn't let up. We didn't know what we'd be up against with Angela and Pauline because they're a new combination and it was a tough match."

The men's final was a case of mate against mate with reigning champions Julien Prosser and Lee Zahner, who have dominated the Tour for the past decade, playing on opposite sides of the net after announcing the end of their partnership last month.

Prosser and his new partner Mark Williams won in straight sets (21-13, 21-15) against Zahner, who teamed up with America's 2000 Olympic gold medallist Dain Blanton.

Australian-born Williams, 23, who has lived in America since he was nine, linked with Prosser this month and the new teammates have their sights set on the 2004 Athens Olympics.

"Mark has all the skills, but what really impressed me was his mental and strategic game," said Prosser.

Prosser, 30, partnering Zahner, represented Australia in beach volleyball at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games. Williams was in Australia's indoor volleyball team in Sydney 2000.

"Julien and I will be training and playing hard on this tour and then we want to play the World Tour next year with the aim of qualifying for the Athens Olympic Games," said Williams.

Pottharst and Cook fly to Brazil tomorrow to prepare for a rematch of their Olympic final game against Shelda Bede and Adriana Behar on Copacabana Beach on December 1.

The next round of the five-event Australian tour is at Geelong on December 6-7.

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