Dalhausser’s road to gold goes through Myrtle Beach

Olympic gold medalist Phil Dalhausser has gained international fame in cities like London and Beijing, but few remember when the beach volleyball player was toiling away in obscurity here on the Grand Strand.

Now ranked as the No. 1 player in the world, Dalhausser was a newcomer to the sport when he lived and trained at a Myrtle Beach oceanfront home in 2003 and 2004, spending his days practicing with other aspiring pros.

The native of Switzerland moved to the U.S. as a child and grew up in Ormond Beach, Fla., playing basketball and other sports until he got tired of being dunked on by high school teammate and NBA great Vince Carter.

The 6-foot-9 Dalhausser finally found his sport when he picked up indoor volleyball as a senior in high school. He played for the University of Central Florida’s club team before making the transition to sand.

Dalhausser and playing partner Adam Roberts, a Myrtle Beach resident who was operating a training camp out of his oceanfront home, spent two years honing their skills on the beach volleyball court in their backyard.

After dominating on the East Coast, they went to the West Coast, where the top players in the nation compete. It didn’t take Dalhausser long to climb the ladder, joining forces with current partner Todd Rogers in 2006.

The new team had an immediate impact on the pro tours. Learning from the veteran Rogers, Dalhausser was named the FIVB’s Most Improved Player in 2006, AVP Tour Champions in 2007 and FIVB Sportsman of the Year in 2008.

Dalhausser and Rogers qualified for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, and brought home the gold despite a shaky start. The duo lost its first-round match to Latvia but bounced back to run the table to the title.

The duo have been on a roll ever since, winning the 2010 FIVB title. Dalhausser has been named FIVB’s most valuable player twice, best offensive player and setter three times and best hitter and blocker four times.

The 32-year-old Dalhausser has suffered some injury issues leading up to the Olympics, including a blood clot in his shoulder that required surgery to correct and an ankle injury that appears to still be a hindrance.

Just as in 2008, Dalhausser and Rogers struggled early in the tournament, rallying to defeat Japan and Spain in pool pl;ay to guarantee themselves a trip to the medal round with a chance to win repeat gold.

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