Host City: Atlanta, United States
Venue(s): Atlanta Beach, Jonesboro, Georgia
Date Started: July 23, 1996
Date Finished: July 28, 1996
Format: Double-elimination tournament.
The controversy over the administration of beach volleyball extended to the sand of the men’s competition in Atlanta. The IOC had recognized the FIVB as the governing body of beach volleyball, although most of the top men professionals played on the AVP Tour. The FIVB ruled that AVP players had to qualify via FIVB events. Originally only two teams per nations were to be allowed, but because of the dispute between the FIVB and AVP, three teams from any country could compete. The #1 seed was the Brazilian team of Lopes and Neto, who would finish only equal ninth. The big story in Atlanta was the two rival American teams from the competing tours. Sinjin Smith (Sinjin is short for his middle name of St. John) and Carl Henkel played on the FIVB tour. The top AVP team consisted of Kent Steffes and Karch Kiraly. Kiraly had led the US to indoor gold medals in 1984 and 1988, and was considered the greatest volleyball player in the world. Originally a beach partner of Sinjin Smith, he and Smith no longer got on well, further inflaming the rivalry. The third US team consisted of Mike Dodd and Mike Whitmarsh, who also played on the AVP Tour. The match of the tournament occurred in the quarter-finals between Kiraly/Steffes and Smith/Henkel. Smith and Henkel went ahead 12-8, and had match point at both 14-13 and 15-14. Kiraly and Steffes fought off four match points to win, 17-15. The final came down to the two AVP teams, with Kiraly/Steffes defeating Dodd/Whitmarsh in two sets, 12-5, 12-8.