Regla Torres (left) and Karch Kiraly hope that their medal aspirations can now be met on the other side of the court lines as assistant coaches for Cuba and USA
Matsumoto, Japan, October 29, 2010 – Cuba's Regla Torres and USA's Charles 'Karch' Kiraly find the FIVB Volleyball World Championship and the Olympic Games as natural an arena as the kitchen is to a professional chef or the bullring to a skilled matador.
Torres and Kiraly were named the best female and best male volleyball players of the 20th century by the FIVB in 2001 and the duo have coincided again at the 2010 Women's Volleyball World Championship as assistant coaches of their respective teams.
Before Cuba and the USA met in their final first-round match on Wednesday, the two triple-Olympic champions and Hall of Famers happily posed for the cameras. After the game, a 3-1 American win, they talked about the most memorable moments of their illustrious careers.
Torres, who was part of three Olympic gold medal-winning sides between 1992 and 2000, considered her final gold as the most treasured piece in her collection. "All the victories were great but I have to pick the Sydney 2000 Olympics because they had a very high level of volleyball with all the teams in very good condition," she recalled. "I was coming from a two-year injury and wasn't sure if I was going to be in my top shape. So winning the gold in 2000 was something special – the best medal of them all and my most indelible moment."
Kiraly, who turned 50 on Wednesday, did not hesitate as he said all three Olympic medals were special in their own way. "It is impossible to pick one because each of my three Olympic golds was special and they were all different," said Kiraly, who claimed Olympic titles in volleyball in 1984 and 1988 and in beach volleyball in 1996.
"The first was really a nice surprise because we were only hoping for any medal and the second one because we had to play the Soviet Union in a dream finale," he said. "The third was in the first-ever beach volleyball competition at the Olympics and nobody knew what to expect. It was also very exciting because it was back in the US and we (Kiraly and Ken Steffes) played the finals against great friends (Mike Dodd and Mike Whitmarsh), fellow Americans."
Asked to comment on the other's brilliant career, Regla and Kiraly were quick to offer respect and accolades. "I never saw Karch Kiraly playing but while I was growing up in Cuba we heard a lot about his feats and those of his team-mates like Steve Timmons and other stars of the American teams," Torres commented. "One thing I know for sure is that he was a great one."
"Yes I saw Regla Torres playing and I really have no words to describe how good she was," Kiraly retorted. "Nobody could stop her."
The FIVB 20th Century's Volleyball best
KARCH KIRALY (USA 1984-1996) for his performances and courage in leading the USA national men's team to win, among other titles, the Olympic gold in Los Angeles 1984, the World Cup in Tokyo 1985, the World Championship in Paris 1986, the Olympic gold in Seoul 1988 and the gold medal of the new FIVB Olympic Event Beach Volleyball in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics alongside Ken Steffes.
REGLA TORRES (CUBA 1992-2000) for her athletic performances, courage and endurance in leading the Cuba national women's team to win most of the world volleyball tournaments played between 1992 and 2000, including three consecutive Olympic gold medals in Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000; the World Championships in Brazil 1994 and Tokyo 1998; and the World Cups in Tokyo 1995 and 1999.