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FIVB Men's Olympic Games 2008

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Family man Milinkovic to miss Olympic qualifying tournament

Argentine veteran Marcos Milinkovic has said he will not play in the upcoming World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Tokyo

Lausanne, April 9, 2008 - Argentine Marcos Milinkovic has said he will skip the upcoming World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Japan because of family commitments, although the veteran insists he is not planning on hanging up his National Team jersey.

Milinkovic, who plays in the Opposite position for Argentina, relayed his decision to miss the May 31 to June 8 tournament over the phone to Argentina Head Coach Jon Uriarte and Argentine Volleyball Federation (FeVA) Vice-President in charge of National Teams Juan Angel Pereyra.

"It has been a very personal decision and hard at this point of my life and it has nothing to do with (resigning) from being part of the Argentine Men's National Team," Milinkovic told the FeVA Press Department.

Milinkovic, participating in the Playoffs of the Turkish League with the Ist.B.Sehir Bld. Club and who lives in Serbia with wife Jelena, is set to become a father for the second time in mid-May.

"The draw was the point where I made my decision. I was talking with Jon about it because if we would have played in Germany or Portugal I could travel without problems but due to the distance with Japan all is different," said Milinkovic.

"In Europe, I could easily solve in a couple of hours any needs of my family and the tournaments only take a couple of days, but in Japan to leave my family for three weeks is very difficult because I would have to leave my wife alone with our son, Luka, four years old, and the baby, who at that point will only be a few days old.

"I am 36 years old and my priorities now have changed and I am responsible for her and with the National Menís Team but my concentration would not be ideal for that important event."

The World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Tokyo will see eight teams battle it out for two places at the 12-team Volleyball tournament at the Beijing Games in August. Algeria, Argentina, Italy, Australia, Korea, Iran and Thailand join hosts Japan in the round-robin competition. The best team, plus the best Asian team (even if the winner is Asian) advance.

Milinkovic said he feels bad about missing out helping his compatriots try to claim a Beijing berth: "I know it will be a very hard qualification tournament for Argentina and I wanted to enjoy it because I believe I will not be wearing the light blue-white jersey for a long time.

"I had to take the decision between staying with my family and travelling with the National Team and, as many times I have left everything behind due to my love for Volleyball, this time the priority is my family."

The Argentine star also added: "My goal is to play the best I can and now I would not be able to with my mind in Turkey. Therefore I was already talking with Jon Uriarte even more (and) I told him I was ready to travel for a couple of days to give a press conference or be under the coaching team and the Argentine Volleyball Federation for what they needed, because they always gave me the chance of representing the country and I am very thankful for that.

"I do not want anyone to think something that has nothing to do with my family now."

Milinkovic also made it clear that his decision to skip the tournament was not an act of resignation.

"One always wants to play with the Argentine Men's National Team. I know that due to my age one day it will be over, but I hope in the future to be able to play at least one more match wearing the great light blue-white jersey. That is my dream.

"To finish a period without being able to enjoy a last match is not fair. When one thinks about a final and that does not happen it is hard. My dream was to be able to finish at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games but until now we do not have the chance. I do not know if I will have one more chance, I hope I will be able to enjoy once more wearing the Argentine jersey," Milinkovic said.

Milinkovic first played for Argentina at the Pan-American Games in La Habana, Cuba in 1991 and still feels he has a lot to offer.

"I would love to keep in relation with the team. I said that to Jon and the FeVA authorities. I will always be at the disposal of the team and if I can help, no matter how, it will be a great honour to be there," said Milinkovic.

"Then we will see if I can keep being one of its players or from another place but I still have a lot to give for the team."



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