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FIVB Women's Olympic Games 2008

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Brazilian Women celebrate Olympic gold-medal triumph with thousands of fans during traditional victory parade in Sao Paulo

The Brazilian Women gold-medal winners enjoy the victory parade on a fire brigade truck in Sao Paulo on Wednesday

Lausanne, August 28, 2008 – The Brazilian Women’s team received a rapturous welcome from thousands of fans during a victory parade for the Beijing Olympic gold-medal winners on the streets of Sao Paulo on Wednesday.

As is tradition following the Brazilian Men’s Olympic golds in 1992 and 2004, players and officials made their way down the main street of the city on a fire brigade truck through a throng of cheering fans – many taking a short break from work – hoping to catch a glimpse of the newly crowned Olympic champions.

Brazil Head Coach José Roberto Guimaraes, the first coach to win both the men’s and women’s Olympic gold after also leading the Brazilian Men to glory at Barcelona 1992, lavished praise on his players, who dropped just one set – to USA in the final match – in the eight games they played en route to gold.

“It was a fantastic campaign, sincerely we were not expecting those numbers,” said the coach known as “Ze Roberto.” “But this was the fruition of all the hard work of the players. We passed through a big difficult time with the elimination in the semi-finals at 2004 Athens Games but we demonstrated our strength and we began to work again.”

One of the pre-tournament favourites, Brazil finished fourth in Athens, triggering criticism in their home country, but they bounced back to win silver medals in the 2006 FIVB World Championships and 2007 FIVB World Cup as well as finishing first in the FIVB World Grand Prix in 2005, 2006 and 2008.

Then came their first-ever Olympic gold.

“Our big plus point was having a big number of options for every single moment,” said Guimaraes. “We passed through 150 international games in this Olympic cycle and thanks to this we got to know our opponents well and no teams at the end were new to us.”

The 38-year-old setter Fofao leaves the national team after adding Olympic gold to the two bronze medals she won at Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000.

“Those were years and years of happiness and now finally all our work has paid off,” Fofao said. “There were many years I dedicated to Volleyball. Now it is time to leave space to other players.”

Guimaraes lamented the departure of Fofao but said the nucleus of the gold-medal winning team will remain the same for the next Olympic cycle.

“I should say that all the players were the heart and lungs of the team, but Fofao was the soul. The change of setter is always complicated for the importance of the position but we have got everything to maintain our good results. The group is young and most of them will continue in the years to come,” said Guimaraes.

Olympic tournament MVP Paula Pequeno, dazzled by the glint of her Olympic gold medal, said she was still coming to terms with Brazil’s victory.

“I still don’t understand what it is like to be an Olympic champion,” said Pequeno. “More than the technical and tactical part, this group is a champion for the sense of teamwork, for the team spirit and for all the things each one does for the other.

“We came back from a very difficult moment, the Olympics in Athens (which Pequeno missed through injury). I am here thanks to my family, husband and small daughter. She is my beloved and she gives me strength to go on. I will always speak about this group as a big family,” said Pequeno.

Brazil’s Sheilla Castro echoed her coach and team-mates when explaining why Brazil deserved to be gold-medal winners.

“This group deserved to be champions for all the things it is has done and the commitment it has showed,” said Sheilla. “This was our time.”

  
 

 

  
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