Poland power to first-ever gold medal
The summer of 2012 saw a frenzy of volleyball across the world, with the FIVB World League, Olympic qualification tournaments and the
London Olympic Games. The World League truly lived up to its name, spreading the sport from Bulgaria to Brazil and Guimarães to Gwangju.
Sofia’s Armeec Arena had the honour of hosting the Finals and champions Poland will cherish that venue for a long time to come.
The 2012 World League saw a new format that
simplified the Intercontinental Round. The 16
teams were drawn into four groups of four and
each team would host one round of matches.
That meant that each team would play a total of
qualifying matches against the other teams in
their pool. Qualifying involved some spectacular
matches and a nail-biting finish for some of the
The six that emerged for the Finals in Sofia
represented the best of men’s volleyball – Brazil,
USA, Poland, Cuba, Germany for the first time
and Bulgaria – and the talent on view was
breath-taking. Poland’s brilliant all-round game
led the Polish players to their first-ever World
League title, a triumph for the team and their
inspirational coach Andrea Anastasi. Bartosz
Kurek was in devastating form for the Poles and
it was no surprise that he was named MVP of
the tournament. In fact, the Poles picked up five
of the nine individual honours at the end of the
tournament, including Best Spiker, Best Blocker,
Best Digger and Best Libero. The Bulgarian players
also pulled out all the stops on home soil, taking
first or second prize in every individual category
except one (Best Spiker).
From the first weekend of the Intercontinental
Round to the final game itself, the tournament
threw up surprise results and unexpected
performances that thrilled audiences around the
world. With a new champion in Poland and some
exceptional young talent on display, the 2012
World League was again a wonderful showcase
for the sport.