crowned 2004 Olympic champions
Greece, August 28, 2004 – World number three China
pulled off a miraculous comeback from two sets down to
beat Sydney 2000 silver medalists Russia 3-2 (28-30,
25-27, 25-20, 25-23, 15-12) and claim the ultimate prize
– the gold medal – in a stunning final at the 2004
Olympic Games women’s Volleyball competition in the
Peace and Friendship Stadium on Saturday.
It is China’s second Volleyball gold medal following
their first triumph in 1984 and is a vast improvement on
their fifth place finish in Sydney four years ago. For
Russia (formerly the USSR) they miss out on their fifth
women’s Olympic Volleyball gold having won the title
already in 1968, 1972, 1980 and 1988 and it is their
second successive silver after losing to Cuba at Sydney
The gold medal capped an amazing 14 months for China,
having won the World Cup and World Grand Prix titles in
2003 and was all the more impressive considering their
tallest player at 196cm Ruirui Zhao had missed most of
the tournament due to injury.
“We are very happy,” said Chinese captain and MVP Feng
Kun. “Obviously this has been a target for four years
and we kept on going until the final point. It was a
great performance by everyone, we had great solidarity
and we kept playing through the tough times, and that is
what brought us the gold.”
The final represented everything that the women’s
competition has entailed - beautiful skill, matched with
awesome power and ability - with the score drawing level
50 times during the match. Russia were at their
magnificent best but China, in an excellent prelude to
Beijing 2008, were up to the task claiming the
tiebreaker in a thrilling finish.
“After we lost the first two sets I told the players
never mind because we haven’t lost the match,” said
Chinese coach Zhonghe Chen. “I told them we weren’t
playing that bad and to keep on going because we were
getting better and better as the match went on.”
Earlier Cuba, who were the champions of the last three
Olympics, collected the bronze medal after beating
Brazil 3-1 (25-22, 25-22, 14-25, 25-17).
"Obviously, it is very difficult to follow the long and
victorious history of the Cuban team,” coach Luis Felipe
Calderon said. “It is a beautiful experience to have
young people who follow the example of their previous
co-athletes. Our goal was to reach the six best teams of
this tournament and we gained the bronze medal. We are
The men’s final will be held on Sunday with Italy
playing Brazil at 14:30 straight after the bronze medal
match between Russia and USA at 12:30.
awaits for China or Russia
27 August – Sydney 2000 silver medalists Russia and
World Cup title holders China will face off in a
fascinating clash for gold in the final of the Olympic
women’s Volleyball competition on Saturday.
While Russia finished second four years ago, China were
silver medalists in Atlanta in 1996. This time one of
the two will celebrate winning the gold medal.
Russia will start as favourites with their taller and
more physical approach likely to be a daunting obstacle
to overcome for a Chinese side, which relies on agility
and team work to undo the best defence and offence. The
great setting from captain Feng Kun is also a match
China beat Russia in straight sets (25-15, 25-16, 28-26)
in the opening match in Preliminary Round but Russia is
coming off a thrilling semifinal win over Brazil in a
final set tiebreaker 3-2 (18-25, 21-25, 25-22, 28-26,
16-14), despite trailing at one stage by two sets to
The Europeans boasts the two top scorers of the
competition so far, in Ekaterina GAMOVA (RUS) and
Lioubov SHASHKOVA (RUS), and are also the best team in
the top blockers ratings.
However, China are the best team in terms of statistics.
They head four different statistical categories; top
spikers, top servers, non-scoring diggers and
Hao YANG (CHN) is the fourth highest scorer of the
tournament so far, while Ping ZHANG (CHN) is top of the
spiking efficiency rankings and Lina WANG (CHN) is top
of the top server rankings.
China’s morale is also at high, as in the semifinals
they were the team that put an end to Cuba’s 12 year
dominance of the Olympic tournaments with a stunning
five set win (25-22, 25-20, 17-25, 23-25, 15-10).
The final on Saturday will see Russia play China at
20:00 straight after the bronze medal match between
Brazil and Cuba at 18:00.