Russian Liubov Shashkova Sokolova is one of the most famous players at 2010 FIVB Women’s World Championship in Japan. After a two-year break since the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the 32-year old star is back in business.
After a two-year break since the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, 32-year old Liubov Sokolova is back in business.
Sokolova started her career fourteen years ago in Atlanta. Many things have changed since her first appearance on the international stage. “We play faster, serve better and put much importance on our defense. Back in the 90’s, the Russian game was much more linear.”
Head coach Vladimir Kuzyutkin asked Sokolova to return for the 2010 World Championship. “I agreed, even when my body hurts after many years of play.” Thinking about the Russian chances to defend their title, she says: “In women’s volleyball, many things can happen during such a competition. However, we have a strong team, I hope to go far.”
Apart from the technical and tactical evolution, the philosophy has changed in the Russian team. “We have a strong mix of experienced and young players”, says Sokolova. “The ambiance is different. There is more room for communication and exchange.”
There may have been changes made to Russia's squad to accommodate some younger players but with plenty of experience among the old guard of Maria Borodakova, Ekaterina Gamova, Liubov Sokolova and Yulia Merkulova, Kuzyutkin is hopeful they have found the right balance.
What about Sokolova’s future? “I haven’t decided yet. In two years, there is again the European Championship. Who knows if the coach still needs me…” Liubov Sokolova has a 13-year old son, but imagines more offspring. “Why not have another baby?” After two divorces, Liubov is again single. “Who knows what life holds for me in the future.”
Volleyball fans all around the world hope to see Sokolova for many more years on the volleyball court. “At 40, I’ll play as libero,” said a smiling Liubov Sokolova.