Lausanne, Switzerland, January 11, 2016 – Olympic men’s champions Russia and FIVB women’s world champions USA were the two biggest names to qualify for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games after three of the five confederations completed their Olympic Qualifying Tournaments over the weekend.
London 2012 gold medallists Russia came through the CEV Men’s Olympic Qualifier by coming from behind to defeat FIVB World League holders France 3-1 (14-25, 25-16, 25-23, 25-21) at the Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin.
The result completed an excellent 24 hours for Russian volleyball after the women’s team qualified from the CEV Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament with a 3-1 victory (25-21, 22-25, 25-19, 25-20) over the Netherlands at the Baskent Volleyball Hall in Ankara.
“I would like to stress that this tournament was a lot more difficult and competitive than the European Championship three months ago,” Russia coach Vladimir Alekno said. “Of course I am very happy with the result and also for all players on the team who have worked hard towards this achievement.”
USA chase triple crown
The USA’s qualification means that Karch Kiraly’s team now have the chance to add Olympic gold to the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship title that they won in 2014 and the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix gold from 2015.
They won silver at Beijing 2008 and London 2012 and reached Rio 2016 by defeating the Dominican Republic 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-18) in the NORCECA women’s final in front of 10,213 fans at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.
The USA join their male compatriots, who qualified for the Rio Olympics by winning the World Cup in 2015.
“There are no words to describe it,” said spiker Jordan Larson. “It is unbelievable. I am happy that all the fans came out to support us. Obviously we have played Dominican Republic a lot. We had a good game plan going in and executed well.”
Cuba meanwhile won the men’s NORCECA tournament with a 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-21) win over hosts Canada at the Saville Centre in Edmonton to book their place at Rio 2016, their first appearance at an Olympic Games in 16 years.
“We had suffered many losses to the Canadians and it is the first time we got a win like this against them,” Cuban captain Rolando Cepeda Abreu said. “It is a new beginning for Cuban volleyball and I think we have a team for the years to come.”
Argentina’s women ensured that both they and their male counterparts would be crossing the border to Brazil after they qualified for their first ever Olympic Games.
Las Panteras hosted the South America Olympic Qualification Tournament at the Don Bosco Gym in Bariloche and they didn’t disappoint their fans by beating Peru 3-0 (25-20, 25-20, 25-14) in the final.
Argentina captain Yamila Nizetich was named tournament MVP and she weighed in with 12 points in the final, but teammate Leticia Boscacci led the way with 16 points as her team joined the Argentina’s men team, who qualified for Rio 2016 in October 2015 when they won they CSV Men’s Olympic Qualifier with a 3-2 (25-12, 22-25, 25-12, 25-27, 15-12) over Venezuela.
African duo set to join the Olympic party
The CAVB Men’s African Olympic Qualifying Tournament is currently taking place in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo with the final on January 14. The women’s tournament will take place in Yaounde, Cameroon from February 12-19.
Hosts Brazil and the first and second placed teams from the FIVB Women’s World Cup, China and Serbia, complete the list of teams that have already qualified for the Rio Olympics.
The qualification tournament for Asian teams will also double as a World Olympic Qualification Tournament and will take place in Japan between May 14-22 (Women) and May 28-June 5 (Men).
The hosts will be joined by the top three ranked teams from Asia according to the FIVB Women’s and Men’s world ranking as well as the second and third placed teams from the European Olympic Qualification Tournament, the second placed team from the South American Olympic Qualification Tournament and the second placed team from the NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament. The best ranked Asian team and the top three ranked teams from this tournament will qualify for the Olympics.
The final vacancy will be decided at a second World Olympic Qualification Tournament due to be held in the period from May 14 to June 5, 2016. The third placed team from the South American Olympic Qualification Tournament, the third placed team from the NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament and the second and third placed teams from the African Olympic Qualification Tournament will compete for the final berth.
Men's teams qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
(1) Host country: Brazil
(2) FIVB Volleyball Men's World Cup winners: USA
(3) FIVB Volleyball Men's World Cup runners-up: Italy
(4) South American Olympic Qualification Tournament winners: Argentina
(5) European Olympic Qualification Tournament winners: Russia
(6) NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament winners: Cuba
(1) Host country: Brazil
(2) FIVB Volleyball Women's World Cup winners: China
(3) FIVB Volleyball Women's World Cup runners-up: Serbia
(4) European Olympic Qualification Tournament winners: Russia
(5) NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament winners: USA
(6) South American Olympic Qualification Tournament winners: Argentina