April 16, 2004 - With the hastening approach of the menís and womenís Volleyball Olympic qualification tournaments, teams from around the world have entered into intensive training schedules in order to be in peak condition for the pursuit of a place at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens.
Menís qualifying tournaments will take place in Tokyo (May 22-30), Madrid (May 28-30) and Porto (May 21-23) while a womenís qualifier is also set for Tokyo (May 8-16).
The menís Canadian Volleyball stars have slowly started to regroup with just over a month to go before their test in Tokyo. Senior team players along with some fresh young talent have been gathering in Winnipeg ahead of their first day of training on Monday April 19. "We start our preparations with a great deal of excitement, knowing that the task ahead of us is something that we all want very badly," stated Canadian team Head Coach Stelio DeRocco.
Meanwhile, the menís Japanese Volleyball team will play host to their counterparts from the USA in a series of games designed to physically and mentally prepare Japan ahead of their qualification tournament. Team USA, who have already qualified for the Olympics, will arrive in Japan on Thursday, April 22 and the first friendly match of the tour between the nations will take place on Saturday, April 24.
The worldís number one womenís team, China, have been hosting Japan in a five game series. China are already guaranteed a place at the Olympic Games, however with the Japanese ladies hopeful of joining them via a qualification tournament, the experience of competing against the best should prove invaluable.