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RIO DE JANEIRO -- Like some ghost from the past, the memory of a stinging loss in the Olympic gold-medal volleyball game more than three decades ago returned just in time to save Brazils night. Without it, chances are good that both Alison Cerruti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt would have wound up on a hardwood floor instead of a sand court.Their three-set semifinal win Tuesday over the Dutch pair of Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen advanced the Brazilians into yet another gold medal final and helped soothe their countrymens nerves after Brazils top-seeded womens pair was upset in an earlier semifinal by Germany.Alisons nickname is Mammoth and its easy to see why. He stands 6-foot-8 and takes up enough space to play power forward in the NBA. Schimdts uncle, Oscar, is the greatest basketball player in Brazils history and one of the most decorated international stars of all time. He could shoot without conscience, and even if he thought defense was the interval between his last shot and the next one, he could carry a team and the hopes of an entire nation on his back, including those of his nephew.Oscar is my idol, Bruno said.The long and winding road that brought both Alison and Bruno Schmidt to the beach begins with a volleyball game that was played at the 1984 Los Angeles Games before either of them was born.In the 1980s, basketball and volleyball were like this, five-time Olympic Brazilian volleyball great Emanuel Rego explained, holding both hands palms down at his chest. Maybe basketball was a little bigger because of Oscar. ...Then came the game. It was much talked about. It changed the balance, Emanuel said, turning his right palm up, like that.That game was played at the 1984 Summer Games, pitting traditional indoor volleyball powers Brazil and the United States for gold. The two had traded trophies in international competitions with only the occasional interloper sneaking in between them. After two tight sets, the Americans cruised to a 15-2 win in the third.Soon after, beach volleyball became all the rage. Having begun in Southern California in the 1920s, it took off, according to legend, when it was played at a nudist colony outside Paris a decade later. In the years that Alison and Schmidt grew up, volleyball in the sand was just hitting its stride on both continents. Once again, the United States and Brazil locked horns.Alison, who was born in 1985, wanted to play futbol, which Brazilians like to say is more a religion than sport. When the last spot in a league he wanted to join was taken, he wound up in one of the volleyball programs launched across the country to return Brazil to what the sporting public here viewed as its rightful place at the top.I have to thank my mother, Alison said through an interpreter. That made me a great player.Schmidt was a promising basketball talent until he was 12. But he got tired of always being Oscar Schmidts nephew, always being compared, said Luis Felipe Schmidt, Brunos father, Oscars younger brother, and a member of Brazils military teams for years.I was in the Navy and in 2004, we moved to Vittoria, where there was a big center for beach volleyball, he continued. It was fun, and not so much pressure. ... You get a ball and go to the beach, there was always a game. I used to be Brunos teammate until he became too good.Asked how uncle Oscar responded to news that his nephew was choosing volleyball, Luis shook his head.We never had a real discussion, he said. We are a basketball family, after all. But we are also a sporting family. It also helped that his uncle Tadeu (Luis youngest brother) was a good player and supporter of Brunos volleyball playing.Beach volleyball became a medal sport at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Since then, Brazils mens and womens team have won gold twice and 11 medals overall. The numbers for the United States are six and 9, respectively. The German men won gold in 2012, representative of a push by European teams like the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, as well as emerging Asian power China, to shoehorn themselves between Brazil and the United States.The Brazilians wont give ground easily, if at all. At the end of their tough three-set win over the Dutch pair, Alison fell flat on his face and lay spread-eagle in the sand for nearly a minute before rising to shake hands and hug Bruno and then their opponents.Outside the arena, Luis Schmidt accepted congratulations from several generations of Brazilian greats -- first from Emanuel, then from Bernardo Rajzman and finally a handful of officials from the national volleyball federation. He recalled the days when young Bruno left his basketball at home and sauntered down to the beach in bare feet with a volleyball stuck under his arm.Unbelievable, Luis said finally. Totally unbelievable to see him reach the position he is in today.---Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)ap.org and Twitter.com/JimLitke. Stitched MLB Jerseys China . Vokoun departed practice on Saturday morning after discovering swelling in his thigh. He was taken to a local hospital where the clot was revealed. The club announced the surgery following a 5-3 exhibition loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Wholesale Stitched NBA Jerseys .com) - The Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks both take aim at their first wins of the season on Saturday, as the Canucks open their home slate at Rogers Arena. http://www.stitchedjerseyscheap.com/ . Soukalova missed only one target and completed the 15-kilometre course in 40 minutes, 32.6 seconds for both victories in this seasons individual discipline. Darya Domracheva of Belarus was second, 34. Stitched Soccer Jerseys Online .Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres have recalled forward Kevin Porter and defenceman Chad Ruhwedel from the minors as part of a five-player roster shuffle made by the NHLs worst team. Authentic Stitched NHL Jerseys . LOUIS -- Rookie Tavon Austin has missed another day of practice, lessening the odds hell be ready for the St.Grand National-winning trainer Denys Smith has died, aged 92. The County Durham handler enjoyed his finest hour at Aintree in 1968 when Red Alligator claimed National glory under Brian Fletcher.Smith could even have claimed the big race 12 months earlier, but the same horse finished a distant third after he became embroiled in the notorious 23rd-fence pile-up that led to Foinavon causing a 100-1 upset. A former taxi driver, the self-taught Smith was seen as one of the pioneering trainers of his generation and also won two Group One races on the Flat.Smith was crowned champion jumps trainer in the 1967-68 campaign but he was prolific on the Flat, too, having won races like the Lincoln (Foggy Bell), the Middle Park (Tudenham) and the Flying Childers (Mandrake Major).He was also a Cheltenham Festival-winning trainer and landed a division of the Gloucestershire Hurdle (now the Supreme Novices Hurdle) in 1968.Owens Mark provided Smith with a first victory under Rules at Sedgefield in February 1958, while Monksford gave him his last winner at Hamilton in 2002.He saddled over 1,600 winners from his Bishop Auckland yard in a careeer that spanned nearly 50 years.ddddddddddddFormer jockey Chris Grant left school as a 15-year-old to work for Smith, in a union which lasted 15 years, and said he owed everything in racing to his former boss.Grant, who is now a trainer in Cleveland, said I nearly got out of the game because I was a bit heavy, but Denys got me going again.He won a National, won a Lincoln, and won so many other good races during such a long career.Flat or jumps, it didnt matter to Denys. He was really ahead of his time in that respect.We travelled a lot of miles together. He used to drive me to the races and I used to drive him back.We got on very well and won some nice races, including the Triumph Hurdle Trial (Cheltenham) with The Grey Bomber and the Greenall (Haydock) with Midnight Love.Denys was in a care home until recently, but his mind was still as sharp as a razor.I wouldnt be where I was now if it wasnt for Denys Smith. Also See: Live results service Full racecards Get Sky Sports £10 completely free bet! 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