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Looking back: China win Olympic gold

 
Lausanne, Switzerland, September 20, 2016 - A month has gone by since the women's volleyball final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but the memories of China's victory remain strong.

After a total of 5,986 rallies, the tournament ended when Hui Ruoqi's spike earned China victory against Serbia and a third Olympic gold medal after winning runs at the Los Angeles 1984 and Athens 2004 Olympic Games.



Her team's victory meant the Asian side overtook Cuba in the overall women's volleyball medals table. The victory came after a first week of shaky pool play that saw China qualify just fourth for the knockout stage, before causing a lot of drama in knocking out hosts Brazil in five in the quarterfinals and then taking out the Netherlands in four in the semis.

 

Despite going down to an opponent they had defeated in straight sets in pool play, it was a dream ending for Serbia, who became a new entry in the medals table at number seven.


Serbia's silver medal at Rio 2016 was a historic moment for the Balkan side.

The Netherlands could have become a new entry themselves, but after a magnificent run through pool play and a convincing four-set win over Korea in the quarterfinals, they eventually fell to USA in four sets in the bronze medal match.



The reigning world champions and London 2012 silver medallists were surely hoping for something more than that bronze. But although that Olympic gold still eludes them, they managed to stay on the podium for a third Olympics running.


USA defeated the Netherlands to finish third - but that Olympic gold still eludes them.

Further down the table, the two teams that met in the opening match of the competition, Japan and Korea, bowed out of in the quarterfinals, missing out on a chance of a shot at the medals, after both had played for bronze four years earlier in London 2012.

As did reigning European champions Russia, who suffered a heavy defeat to Serbia in the quarterfinals. It has now been 12 years since Russia were last on an Olympic podium.

But the story of the quarterfinals was surely the defeat of home favourites and defending champions Brazil to the hands of China - a result that left a packed Maracanãzinho, and indeed a whole nation, in shock. After an absolutely perfect run of five wins and 15-0 sets in pool play, Brazil made an early exit and missed out on the opportunity to match Cuba's unique record of three straight Olympic gold medals from the 1990s.


Brazil's defeat in the quarterfinals to China left the home players in tears and a whole nation in shock.

Tokyo will welcome the next Olympic volleyball tournament in 2020. Read more here.


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