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Brazil's Paula misses out on Women's World Championship

Brazil's Paula has lost her race to be fit for the FIVB Women's World Championship after suffering a fractured ankle.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, October 15, 2010 – Brazil's 2008 Olympic champion Paula Pequeno has been left out of Jose Roberto Guimaraes's squad for the 2010 FIVB Women's World Championship after she failed to recover from a fractured ankle in time.

The wing spiker suffered the injury at the FIVB World Grand Prix final round in Ningbo, China but has lost her race to regain fitness before the World Championship, which begins in Japan on October 29.

"We had a long conversation yesterday and I decided to preserve the physical integrity of Paula, who is just returning from injury," Ze Roberto said. "This moment is very sad. We've lost a great player for a major tournament. We have a history together and not taking Paula to the World Championship was a very complicated decision. I appreciate all her effort, dedication, solidarity."

Despite the disappointment, Paula wished her team-mates the best of luck as they look to go one better than at the 2006 World Championship, where they finished second to Russia.

"We have managed to overcome many situations, but there comes a time when we have to respect the body's limits," she said. "I struggled and did everything to try to recover in time to play the World Cup but did not. It's painful not being able to participate but I respect the decision and will cheer on the team too. The girls have the ability to fight for this title."

Brazil will also travel to Asia without Paula's fellow wing spiker, Mari, who underwent knee surgery in September and faces an absence of five months. "Mari and Paula are experienced players, very important to the group," Ze Roberto added. "Without a doubt they will be missed. But this team are able to play as the equals of any team."

With the injuries to Paula and Mari, Natalia will make the trip as a starting member of the Brazil side. The 21-year old began the World Grand Prix earlier this year as a reserve but is now expected to start alongside Jacqueline.

"Natalia has been preparing for selection since she was 16," Ze Roberto said. "We cannot put a great burden of responsibility on her, but Natalie is already able to withstand the pressure."

The full squad includes: Fabiola and Dani Lins (setters), Sheilla and Joycinha (opposite), Jacqueline, Natalie, and Sassá Fernanda Garay (caps), Fabiana, Thais, and Carol Adenízia Gattaz (central) and Fabi and Camila Brait (sweepers).

The team were due to remain at their Brazilian training base in Aryzao until Friday before travelling to Saquarema on Monday and then Japan on Wednesday ahead of the start of the competiton. They are in Pool B along with Kenya, Puerto Rico, Italy, Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

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