London 2012

Press release

Zaytsev hopes bronze will take Italy back to top of volleyball world

Ivan Zaytsev has followed in his father's footsteps by winning an Olympic medal, after Italy beat Bulgaria for the bronze medal

London, Great Britain, August 12, 2012 – Italy’s bronze medal at the London Olympic Games was their first in a major tournament since silver at Athens 2004 and the aim is to now use it build a new period of dominance in men’s volleyball.

A failure to finish on the podium at either Beijing 2008 or at home in Italy at the 2010 FIVB World Championships meant that a new regime was brought in under coach Mauro Berruto. He introduced a number of young players to the squad and many of them played major roles in the 3-1 win over Bulgaria in the bronze medal match at Earl’s Court.

“We created a new team,” wing spiker Ivan Zaytsev said. “After the 2010 World Championship in Rome there were a lot of new elements; the coach, the majority of the squad. Since then it has been two years of hard work and this bronze medal is our reward.

“Of course a medal at the Olympic Games is great and to stand on the podium is fantastic. For most of us it is our first Olympic medal.”

The hope is that the new faces will help Italy return to the days of “il superteam” that won three World Championships, six European Championships, two Olympic silvers and one bronze between 1989 and 2004.

The one medal that eluded them was an Olympic gold and while no-one is proclaiming the current Azzurri team as potential gold medallists in Rio de Janeiro in four years time, the bronze in London and the silver they won at the 2011 European Championships shows the potential of the team.

“It is a good starting point for a young national team aiming for the top of the volleyball world,” Zaytsev added. “We have developed well and can be satisfied with this Olympic Games.”

Against Bulgaria Italy started with a bang and were quickly into their stride to wrap up the first set. They then lost focus in the second to allow Bulgaria to draw level. The third set was far closer, but Italy edged it. In the fourth they were in control from start to finish.

The bronze means Zaytsev is now the second member of his family to have won an Olympic medal. His father Vjaceslav was a setter in the USSR team that won gold in 1980 and silver in 1976 and 1988.

“We started with a great desire and determination to play well,” Zaytsev said. “We were a distracted in the second set and we wanted to rush to the end of our Olympics and tried to force the match.

“There wasn’t the fear of losing there was the fear of not playing our best. We lost the second set and we knew if we didn’t play our best we would lose.”

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