Russia wins World Cup, Brazil books spot in the Olympics
TOKYO - Agence France-Presse
Russia’s Nikolay Apalikov kisses the trophy after winning the World Cup. AP photoRussia stormed back from match points down to defeat Poland and win the men’s World Cup volleyball tournament yesterday with Brazil taking the last ticket to the London Olympics next year.
The Russians, who had already booked their Olympic place on Dec. 3 along with Poland, were down 10-14 in the final set before scoring a 25-23, 23-25, 25-22, 17-25, 17-15 victory.
Two-time defending champions Brazil, ranked top in the world, wound up the two-week round robin competition by beating Japan 25-21, 25-19, 25-22 in the last match, and in doing so nabbed the third and last Olympics berth.
“I am the happiest person on earth today, because today is my birthday and my players gave me a wonderful gift,” said Russian coach Vladimir Alekno.
“I also congratulate Poland for taking the ticket to the Olympic Games. It was the goal for each team.” Poland appeared satisfied as they won their first medal since winning silver in 1965.
“We are really glad that we qualified for the Olympics. We came here to qualify, but still we were fighting to end at the first place. They (Russia) were better than us,” said defenceman Krzysztof Ignaczak.
Polish coach Andrea Anastasi said it was “an incredible tournament” after winning the silver medal against the best teams in the world.
“We took the second place, we are very happy, but we have to do another steps if we want to arrive at the top of the world,” said Anastasi.
Brazilian coach Bernardo Rezende was also satisfied with the result: “The most important thing today was that we won 3-0 and qualified for the Olympics. We came to Japan to get the ticket to the Games, so we are very happy today.” Captain of the Brazil team Gilberto Godoy Filho said: “I’m sad that we didn’t win this championship, but the ticket to the Olympics was the objective, so I’m happy to accomplish that.” In the final standings, Russia, who won the title in 1999 and four times previously as the former Soviet Union, finished with a 10-1 win-loss record for 29 points, beating Poland into second place with an 8-3 record on 26 points.
Brazil ended with the same 8-3 record as Poland and Italy, but finished third on 24 points ahead of Italy in fourth place thanks to their better set ratio.
A winning team received three points from 3-0, 3-1 wins, two points from a 3-2 win, while a losing team received one point from a 2-3 defeat.
Earlier, Italy defeated Iran 25-13, 25-17, 20-25, 25-18 but their Olympic fate depended on the outcome of the Brazil-Japan match.
In other action, Cuba defeated Egypt 26-24, 23-25, 25-23, 25-20 for a 7-4 win loss ratio to finish fifth on 20 points.
European champions Serbia outgunned the United States 25-23, 25-17, 25-19, while Argentina downed China 25-23, 31-29, 25-18.