Foi há 10 anos. Maia e Brenha classificaram-se em 4.º lugar nos Jogos Olímpicos de Sydney, tal como tinha sucedido em Atlanta 1996. No jornal norte-americano "Los Angeles Times", encontrei um relato dos pontos finais da semifinal que Maia e Brenha perderam contra os norte-americanos Blanton e Fonoimoana (que viriam a sagrar-se campeões olímpicos, derrotando os brasileiros Zé Marco e Ricardo):
Maia and Brenha, the Portuguese, had made it to the semifinals four years ago, losing to Dodd and Whitmarsh, 15-13, after 65 minutes. "We have been training for four years now and we are ready to win," Maia said before today's semifinals.
Nope. The first hour of the game was punctuated by lengthy strings of side-outs--25 at one point, 20 at another.
The Portuguese had gone ahead 11-10 when the Americans were penalized a point by referee Peter Paul Hreszczuk of Austria, who said Fonoimoana had taken too long to get back to the court after a timeout.
"We were out there an hour, it's [11-10], and he decides to give them a free point because Eric is cleaning his glasses?" Blanton asked later.
"Maybe that was a wake-up call," Fonoimoana said.
Blanton served down the line. A gutsy serve but, as he said later, "We needed something gutsy." The ball hit the tape. Ace. 12-11.
Next, he served cross-court. Another ace. 12-12.
On Blanton's next serve, Fonoimoana blocked Maia. 13-12.
Then came a Blanton touch shot down the side of the court. 14-12.
On match point, Blanton served hard. The ball tipped the net. Unlike tennis, in beach volleyball a net-tipped serve is still in play. Maia lunged but could not get it. Game.