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2010 Girls' Youth Olympic Games
Singapore
21 - 26 August 2010

 
 Press Release
Belgium and Cuba Youth Olympic Girls’ and Boys’ champions respectively

Belgium and Cuba are the 2010 Youth Olympic champions

Singapore, Singapore August 26, 2010 - Belgium are the inaugural Youth Olympic Games Girls’ Volleyball champions after beating USA in a pulsating final in Singapore on Thursday 3-1 (17-25, 25-20, 25-18, 25-12) while Cuba, thanks to an incredible haul of 35 points from Wilfredo Leon, collected the boys’ title with a 3-1 (25-23, 25-21, 17-25, 25-20) win over Argentina.

The US girls had everything going for them in the first set, when the Belgians looked disorganized on the court however, the momentum switched in the second and there was a point won by the Belgians in the third game that illustrated their resolve to win. Captain Ilka Van De Vvyer dived across the court to get her arm on the ball before it hit the court. She bounced back onto her feet, readied herself for a smash and sent a blistering spike deep into the USA court for a point. "That was a big play," said Belgium’s top scorer with 16 points Laura Heyrman.

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It wasn't as much a pep talk as a simple statement of fact when Belgium coach Julien Van De Vvyer spoke to his girls Volleyball team after they struggled early on against the United States in their gold medal match on Thursday.

"I told them all they lost was one set, and they had not lost the game,"' he said. From that point on, it was a complete reverse on the court at Toa Payoh Sports Hall as everything that had not been working for the Belgians started to click, while the United States saw their game fall apart.

"We never gave up. It is the gold medal game and you can't give up, and we never gave up," 10-pointb hero for Belgium Elien Ruysschaert said.

The win was sweet revenge as the Belgians reversed a loss to the USA earlier in the tournament and while the Belgians celebrated, the USA girls, who desperately missed injured top scorer Elizabeth McMahon, were raw with emotion. "I'm devastated. It's been the hardest game," USA captain Samantha Cash said fighting back the tears. "We didn't commit to do what we planned to do. We lost focus and we couldn't come back."

Meanwhile, with IOC President Dr. Jacques Rogge looking on, Cuban World League star Leon, proved to be the difference with an amazing points haul in the boys' finals. The 16-year-old was unstoppable and although Argentina captain Gonzalo Quiroga did his best with 25 points, Cuba were left celebrating victory in front of a packed arena.

“Leon is our leader, and a role model for the team,” Cuba coach Rodolfo Sanchez said. “He sets the tone, and the team looks up to him. I am proud to have him on my team. Despite being so good, he is humble, and fits in well with the team. I wish him luck for the rest of his life, and he is on his way to becoming the best player in the world.

“However the entire team played a really fantastic tournament, they all should be extremely proud of themselves. It is a great privilege to play in the finals. I’m tremendously proud of my players. The best teams in the world competed, and this team deserved to win.”

On Wednesday, Peru beat Japan for the bronze in the girls’ event while Russia overcame Serbia in the boys’ competition for third place.


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