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UPCOMING OLYMPIC GAMES

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The draw for the Rio 2016 beach volleyball competition has taken place in the Swiss village of Gstaad with men’s top seeds Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil being pitted against teams from Austria, Canada and Italy.

Cerutti - silver medallist alongside Emanuel Rego at London 2012 - and Oscar Schmidt headline Pool A, which also features Italy’s Adrian Carambula and Alex Ranghieri, Austria’s Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst and one of two pairings from Canada.

Grant O’Gorman and Sam Pedlow and Josh Binstock and Sam Schachter combined to secure Canada a second Rio 2016 spot at last week’s International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) World Continental Cup Olympic Qualification tournament in Sochi.

A playoff on Saturday (July 16) will decide which of the two Canadian teams earn their place at next month’s Games.

Brazil's Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt headline the men's draw ©FIVB in Rio/Twitter

The top seeds in the women’s draw are also from Brazil with Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca, the winners of last week’s Gstaad Major Series event, drawn in Pool A.

Joining them are Poland’s Monika Brzostek and Kinga Kolosinska, the United States’ Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat and one of two pairings from Russia.

Anastasia Barsuk, Ekaterina Birlova, Nadezda Makroguzova and Evgenia Ukolova joined forces to secure Russia a Rio 2016 place at the FIVB World Continental Cup Olympic Qualification tournament in Sochi, but it has yet to be decided which two of the four will be representing the country.

To start the draw, the top six-seeded teams were confirmed and placed on top of the six pools in each gender’s competition.

Other top pool pairs for men are The Netherlands' Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen, America's Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, Brazil’s Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Solberg, The Netherlands' Reinder Nummerdor and Christiaan Varenhorst, and the US’s Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson.

US Olympic favourites Kerri Walsh-Jennings and April Ross top Pool C in the women's event and will be joined by Switzerland’s Isabelle Forrer and Anouk Verge-Depre, China’s Fan Wang and Yuan Yue, and Australia’s Mariafe Artacho and Nicole Laird.

Brazil's Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca are the team to beat in the women's draw ©FIVB in Rio/Twitter
Brazil's Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca are the team to beat in the women's draw ©FIVB in Rio/Twitter

The Rio 2016 beach volleyball tournament, held on the famous Copacabana beach, is due to begin on August 6.

The winners and runners-up in each pool will progress automatically to the knock-out stage, while the two best third-placed teams will also go through.

The last two places in the round of 16 will be decided by matches between the other third-placed teams.

Making the draw was London 2012 Olympic champion Julius Brink of Germany and Swiss Alpine downhill world champion Patrick Küng

"Thanks to our professional athletes and the constant improvement of our sport’s global image, beach volleyball will be a centre-piece of this summer’s Olympic Games," said FIVB President Ary Graça.

"The top 24 men’s and women’s teams will no doubt put on an incredible show from August 6 to 18."

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