Unanswered questions as volleyball kicks off at Rio 2016


Wiill Lang Ping coach China to victory?

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 5, 2016 - With less than 24 hours to go until the first service of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Maracanazinho, there still remain a number of nagging questions in every volleyball fan's mind. All these will be resolved in due course over the next fortnight, so check back on August 22 for all the answers.

Can Brazil's women match the record of Cuba with a third straight gold medal?
Cuba dominated the world volleyball scene in the 1990s, collecting straight Olympic gold medals in Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Athens 2004.

Brazil are in position to do the same in front of their home crowd. They struck gold in Beijing 2008 and London 2012 and are poised to repeat their triumph in Rio 2016.

Only Russia (including the USSR) have won more gold medals than Cuba for a total of 4 -but never three in a row.

Can Sergey Tetyukhin win an unprecedented fifth Olympic medal?
The 40-year-old captain of the defending Olympic Champions is guaranteed to become a six-time Olympian on 7 August when Russia take to the court at the Maracanazinho against Cuba for their first Rio 2016 match. This will match the record held by another Russian - Yevgeniya Artamonova.

Artamonova, born in 1975, first played in the Olympics in Barcelona 1992, at the age 17, picking up the silver medals for the 'Unified Team'. She also played for Russia in Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012, picking up two more silver in Sydney and Athens.

Four other players are five-time Olympians, but they're all now retired: Brazil's Fofao and Mauricio Lima, Italy's Andrea Giani and USA's Danielle Scott-Arruda.

Tetyukhin made his Olympic debut in Atlanta 1996 (finishing 4th with Russia) and has competed in all Games since, picking up a silver in Sydney 2000, a couple of bronze in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, and capping it all with a gold at London 2012.

No other volleyball player, male or female, has gone to a fifth medal. Only another three have won four: Cuba's Ana Fernandez (gold in Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000, and bronze in Athens 2004); Italy's Samuele Papi (silver in Atlanta 1996 and Athens 2004 and bronze in Sydney 2000 and London 2012); and the USSR's Inna Ryskal (gold in Mexico City 1968 and Munich 1972, and silver in Tokyo 1964 and Montreal 1976).

Can the reigning women's world champions also claim the Olympic crown in the same cycle?
It's only been done six times - and not in the last 16 years. Cuba (in 1998 / 2000 and in 1994 / 1996) and Japan (1974 / 1976 and 1962 / 1964) have done it twice; China (1982 / 1984) and the USSR (1970 / 1972) once. Can USA, who beat China in the 2014 FIVB World Championship final in Milan join the club with a gold in Rio?

Can Poland repeat their Montreal 1976 Olympic and claim Olympic gold in the same cycle as their World Championship title?
After taking the FIVB World Championship title in Mexico City in 1974, Poland went on to strike gold at the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games. Can they repeat that feat after winning the 2014 FIVB World Championship in Katowice with a win the final over Brazil?

Only the USSR have achieved the 'double' twice, in 1962 / 1964 and in 1978 / 1980. Others to have done it are USA in 1986 / 1988 and Brazil in 2002 / 2004.

Can Ze Roberto overtake Nikolay Karpol in the coaches ranking of gold medals won?
If Brazil win their third straight Olympic gold in the women's tournament of Rio 2016, coach Jose 'Ze Roberto' Guimaraes can become the second coach in history with three Olympic titles to his name -right up there with legendary Nikolay Karpol (though the Russian additionally has a couple of silver for a total of five medals).

The 62-year-old coach led Brazil in their gold-medal-winning performances in Beijing 2008 and London 2012. But he also has an Olympic gold from his days as coach of the men's teams of Brazil, in Barcelona 1992.

He is the only coach to have led teams of both genders to Olympic gold. His counterpart in Brazil's men's team, Bernardo 'Bernardinho' Rezende has also won Olympic medals with both the men's and women's teams -though no gold with the women.

Can Lang Ping or Karch Kiraly become the first person to win Olympic gold both as player and coach?
Lang Ping won a gold as a player for China at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games. After embarking on a coaching career to lead the women's National Team of China to silver in Atlanta 1996, she moved to the USA and coached the women's National Team to a silver at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, before returning to her homeland to retake charge of the China National Team.

Already holding the distinction of being the only female coach to have ever won an Olympic medal, Lang is also one of only three people to have won medals both as a player and coach. Yuri Chesnokov was captain of the USSR that won gold when volleyball made its Olympic debut in Tokyo 1964 and then coached his country's team to bronze in Munich 1972 and silver in Montreal 1976. And Bernardo 'Bernardinho' Rezende won silver as a player at Los Angelese 1984 before coaching the women's and men's National Teams of Brazil to several medals.

Karch Kiraly has won three Olympic gold medals as a player -and is the only player in the world to have done so both indoors and on the beach. After leading USA to gold at Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988, Kiraly returned to action at Atlanta 1996 to claim a third gold with partner Kent Steffes in the inaugural Olympic beach volleyball tournament.

He was assistant to coach Hugh McCutcheon when USA women won silver at the London 2012, before taking full charge of the team.

Can the same country win both the men's and women's gold medals?
It's only been done once before - and that was as way back as almost half a century ago, when the USSR won gold in both genders at the Mexico City 1968 Games. But can it be done again?


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