London 2012

Press release

"Volleyball has turned into a unique success story in London" says IOC member Mario Pescante

IOC member Mario Pescante was not just happy with Italy's fabulous game in the 1/4 finals of the men's tournament, but also with the great ambiance he got the chance to experience at Earls Court

London, Great Britain, August 8, 2012 – After some disappointment resulting from the defeat Italy suffered on Tuesday night in the quarterfinals of the women’s tournament, IOC Vice President Mario Pescante showed up once again at Earls Court and this time he could leave the venue with a totally different feeling, as the guys mentored by Mauro Berruto displayed a classy performance to eventually down the USA in straight sets and make it to the semis.

Volleyball has turned into a major success here in London thereby dissipating the doubts of all those that were a bit skeptical before the start of the Olympic Games since this sport was not that popular in the United Kingdom. “I was literally amazed right by the beginning, I came here for the first round of the women’s prelims as Italy was playing the Dominican Republic and I was surprised to see the sports hall fully packed. The British audience stands out for their fairness and they are definitely interested in getting to know, more closely, this great sport” says Pescante.

Even though this issue is not exclusively limited to volleyball, the local officials hope that once the spotlights contributed by the Olympics are switched off, there will be a long-lasting legacy for the sport in Great Britain. Pescante feels confident in this sense: “If you look around and you have a look at all these people that have been attending the matches this afternoon, and following the actions of the players with so much passion, you can be sure that a legacy is already there”.

Pescante stresses that this is actually a trademark of the London Olympics: “I thought that we had reached the peak already in Sydney, but this time the enthusiasm of the people is literally overwhelming. I have been carrying the Olympic torch for some 300 yards and the crowd turned this into the experience of a lifetime, even though I have been attending quite many Olympics. I think this is something that the next organizers will find difficult to replicate” he adds. “However, this passion does not come as a surprise: we shall not forget that this country is the real birthplace of modern sport, so in this sense the Olympics have come back home. Some people have complained that the transportation was not working properly at the beginning and that the streets were quickly congested. We shall not forget that this is a huge city and the organizers have opted for something atypical, i.e. they have brought some events right to the heart of London. A perfect example in this sense is provided by the venue of the beach volleyball tournament, at Horse Guards Parade, but even the road cycling races finished right downtown” points out the former President of the Italian Olympic Committee.

Pescante knows volleyball really well and agrees the sport has tremendously developed in the past couple of decades: “The physicality of volleyball nowadays is just terrific. I have got the impression that you have transferred 12 basketball players to a volleyball court since they are all physically so imposing and strong. At the same time, their agility is incredible and I can fully understand the audience is going frenzy for the stellar actions we are seeing also in defense”.

Italy will play Brazil in the semis of the men’s tournament and Pescante reveals a funny, but nice anecdote: “By the time my home country was the major force in men’s volleyball, with the golden generation that won the World Championship and other international events, I always asked for being included among the officials nominated for the awards ceremony but eventually ended up by celebrating the glory of Brazil, the Netherlands, and others. This time I did not dare to submit my candidature but have been appointed directly by the IOC. I hope this is a good omen for the next matches of our guys and their quest for Olympic gold”. 

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