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Tetyukhin's quarter-century Olympic journey comes to tearful end

 
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 21, 2016 - Tears in his eyes, Russia captain Sergey Tetyukhin, was inconsolable at the post-match Press Conference after Russia had the Rio 2016 Olympic Games men's volleyball bronze medal snatched out of their hands when USA staged an epic comeback from two sets down to win in five at the Maracanazinho. "It hurts, it hurts, and it hurts in a major way," he said.

Apart from guiding Russia to an 11th medal in the history of the Olympics, Tetyukhin, now 40, also had a personal record at stake. Had that bronze not slipped from his grasp in such a devastating way, he would have been the first volleyball player in history to claim an unprecedented fifth Olympic medal.


Sergey Tetyukhin painfully missed out on an unprecedented fifth Olympic medal at Rio 2016.
 
Although he declined to talk about his future when asked ("Let's talk about the team, not my personal situation") it seems highly improbable that he'll still be on the National Team in four years' time in Tokyo 2020, when he'll be 44.

So the Margilan (now in Uzbekistan)-born Tetyukhin probably has to settle for a career high of four Olympic medals: gold in London 2012, silver in Sydney 2000 and a couple of bronze in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

Other than at Rio 2016, Tetyukhin had also come close to medal in his Olympic debut at the Atlanta 1996 Games, when Russia lost to Yugoslavia 3-1 in the bronze medal match. As a 21-year-old Tetyukhin had come on twice off the bench to score 2 points and 3 sideouts in that game.

Still, with his four Olympic medals Tetyukhin remains a member of an exclusive club. Only another three players in Olympic history 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).


Sergey Tetyukhin serves against Cuba on the opening day of the Rio 2016 men's tournament, when he became a six-time Olympian.

Small consolation though it may be, Tetyukhin did reach one high. He became a six-time Olympian - only the second volleyball player in Olympic history to do so - joining his fellow-Russian Yevgeniya Artamanova who played in her sixth Olympics in London 2012 before retirement.

Retirement is probably in the books for Tetyukhin now as well. Though he didn't say so in so many words, his last comment in the Press Conference room of the Maracanazinho point to that direction: "I want to thank my team. They are an excellent team and they will have an excellent future."

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