July 28 to August 9
United States: Five of the eight Olympic gold medals awarded since the sport's introduction to the Olympics have been won by the United States. US men have claimed three, with Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes getting the ball rolling in Atlanta 1996, before Dain Blanton and Eric Fonoimoana (2000) and Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers (2008) emulated the achievement. US women have taken gold on two occasions, Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor winning in 2004 and 2008.
Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor: Walsh and May-Treanor stand alone as the only beach volleyball duo to defend an Olympic title. The pair first shot to prominence with an unbeaten run to gold at Athens in 2004 and then saw off a determined Chinese challenge in Beijing in 2008. Walsh and May-Treanor, two of the most famous sports personalities in their homeland, are bidding for three in a row in London.
Australia: Despite its miles of sandy beaches and sun-kissed climate, Australia's Olympic showings have been largely poor. Their one moment of glory arrived in Sydney in 2000 when Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst claimed an emotional gold. The duo's bronze at the 1996 Games remains the country's only other Olympic medal in this sport, with Australian men conspicuous by their absence from the roll of honour.
DID YOU KNOW?
China had not claimed an Olympic beach volleyball medal prior to Beijing 2008, when two came along at once. A string of impressive performances by their two women's teams set up an all-Chinese semi-final, in which Tian Jia and Wang Jie prevailed in three sets against Chen Xue and Zhang Xi. Tian and Wang went on to claim silver after defeat to the USA in the final, while Xue and Zhang took bronze.
FIRST APPEARANCE AT THE GAMES