Brazil's Emanuel Rego (front) and Alison Cerutti celebrate a point against Germany's Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik during their men's round of 16 beach volleyball match at Horse Guards Parade during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 4, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo)
Brazilian world champions Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti face Germans Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann in the Olympic men's beach volleyball final on Thursday as Emanuel bids to recapture gold eight years after his last triumph.
Emanuel, 39, is competing in his fifth Olympics. He won gold in Athens in 2004 and bronze in Beijing in 2008 with his former team mate Ricardo Santos.
Like Us on Facebook
Alison, 27, is appearing in his first Games. He and Emanuel have been playing together for three years and have been increasingly dominant, winning the last world championship.
Brink, 30, and Reckermann, 33, also had long careers with different partners but they have enjoyed their greatest successes since they came together in 2009. That year, they won the world championship and the world tour.
If the Germans win the final, they will become the first European team to take gold in Olympic beach volleyball.
In the men's event, only the United States and Brazil have won Olympic titles, while the same two countries plus Australia have won all the gold medals in the women's event since the sport made its Olympic debut in Atlanta in 1996.
Emanuel and Alison started the London Games as favorites, but the Germans' presence in the final was less foreseeable.
The field was thrown open when the defending champions, Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser of the United States, were upset in the round-of-16 by Italians Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo in the biggest shock of the tournament.
The other American men's pair, Sean Rosenthal and Jake Gibb, had also been considered strong contenders for a medal but they too were knocked out earlier than expected when they lost in the quarter-finals to Latvians Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins.
The flop of the U.S. men's teams was in sharp contrast to events in the women's tournament, which culminated in an all-American final on Tuesday. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh won their third straight Olympic title by beating Jennifer Kessy and April Ross.
But in the men's event, the early exit of the Americans created an opening for teams from outside the traditional powerhouses of the sport to excel.
Smedins and Plavins in particular have achieved a sensational result for Latvian beach volleyball by reaching the Olympic bronze medal match. They will face Dutchmen Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil at 1800 GMT.
The gold medal match between the Brazilians and the Germans is scheduled for 2000 GMT.