Olympic Countdown - Barcelona rocks to a Latin American rhythm
Lausanne, Switzerland, May 11, 2012 - As part of a series building up to the London 2012 Olympic Games, the FIVB is looking back at previous Olympic volleyball tournaments. In this edition, Barcelona 1992 is in focus, which saw Cuba women and Brazil men reach the podium for the first time.
Since their last appearance at the Olympics in 1980, the Cuban women’s team had established themselves as clearly the best team in the world, winning their first major title at the previous year’s World Cup. Now they were out to break the Soviet/Japanese dominance of Olympic volleyball.
The semifinals featured the four best teams in the world – Cuba, CIS (formerly USSR), Brazil and USA. The unbeaten Cubans were put to the test by the Americans, who led 9-8 in the fifth set before Cuba scored five straight points and eventually ran out 15-11 winners in the decider.
In the final Cuba met the mighty CIS, four time Olympic champions as the Soviet Union and the 1990 world champions. But although each set was keenly contested, Cuba were 3-1 winners (16-14, 12-15, 15-12, 15-13) while USA, featuring tournament MVP Paula Weishoff, pipped Brazil to the bronze.
Inspired by their up-and-coming coach, José Roberto Guimarães, Brazil did rather better in the men’s event. In the semifinals they beat tournament favourites USA, the 1984 and 1988 Olympic champions, before comfortably winning the final 15-12, 15-8, 15-5 against the Netherlands, who had come through despite losing four of their pool matches!
The finals, at Barcelona’s renowned Palau Sant Jordi, were quite a spectacle according to the 1992 Official Olympic Report, especially the men’s: “The rhythm of the Brazilian victories swelled the ranks of their supporters, clearly identifiable by the green of their shirts.
“The supporters of the Dutch team, in their fluorescent orange shirts, also contributed to the atmosphere. The final of the men's competition between these two countries was therefore an extraordinary explosion of colour.”
This article is one of a series in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympic Games as the FIVB looks back at previous Olympic volleyball tournaments.
For week one’s piece on the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games click here