Men's Olympic Games 2004
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Day 4
20 August
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Greek Olympic dream still alive with quarterfinal qualification
Athens, Greece, August 21, 2004 – In a brilliant day of exhilarating Volleyball, a dramatic five-set thriller 3-2 (25-22, 14-25, 26-24, 23-25, 15-10) against France sealed Greece’s quarterfinal spot in the 2004 Olympic Games men’s Volleyball competition on a day when seven of the eight quarterfinalists were found.
The Peace and Friendship Stadium was definitely the place to be on Saturday for drama, excitement and tension. With eight quarterfinal places up for grabs, wins to USA, Italy, Poland, Serbia and Montenegro, Brazil and Greece confirmed seven of the spots. And there was no more exciting game than the early evening match featuring the hosts and France, which offered all the features of any great classic – twists, turns and suspension – before Greece finally triumphed amongst scenes of colourful celebration.
"It was a great win,” Greece’s Konstantinos Christofidelis said. “We have now beaten an important team, who have always shown they can perform. We started slowly but we eventually found our rhythm. We were desperate to reach the next phase of this tournament.”
"We were lacking unity as a team,” French coach Philippe Blain said. “We were beaten by a good Greek team. We lacked defense, and in the fifth set it seemed like everything was in favor of Greece."
In Pool B all four quarterfinalists have been found. Brazil, who beat Russia 3-0 (25-19, 25-13, 25-23), top the pool with four wins from four matches. The world champions are joined in the quarterfinals by Italy, with one defeat, and USA, and Russia, who have two wins and two defeats. On Saturday, Italy beat the Netherlands 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-20) while USA beat Australia 3-1 (25-19, 23-25, 25-13, 25-19). The Netherlands can still draw level with USA and Russia on the final day on Monday if they beat Australia and the other two teams lose but their set ratio is too inferior for them to gain a quarterfinal berth.
In Pool A, one spot remains to be decided. Defending champions Serbia and Montenegro, who defeated a brave Argentina side 3-1 (21-25, 25-17, 25-21, 25-23), lead the group with three wins and a loss, equal with Greece and Argentina. The last remaining quarterfinal spot will be decided on Monday when France play Tunisia and Poland, who beat Tunisia 3-1 (25-18, 23-25, 25-19, 25-23) play Argentina. France must win well and hope Poland lose their match in straight sets.
The fifth day of the women’s competition resumes on Sunday with Germany playing the Dominican Republic at 09:00. The other women’s matches see Japan playing Kenya, Russia taking on China, Greece hosting Italy, Brazil playing Korea and Cuba playing USA in a must-win match for the world number one Americans.

Two Volleyball Greats take in the Olympic spectacle
Athens, Greece, August 21, 2004 – The two captains of the first Volleyball teams to win Olympic gold are here at the Peace and Friendship Stadium taking in the 10th edition of Volleyball at the Olympics Games.
Ms. Masae Nakamura (nee Kasai), 70, the former Japanese women’s captain, and former Russian men’s captain Mr. Yuri Chesnokov,71, are now participating in the 28th Olympiad in different functions but in 1964 they led their respect teams to the inaugural Olympic gold medal in Volleyball. Pic: The first Olympic Volleyball gold medalists from 1964 - Japan's Masae Kasae (left) and Russia's Yuri Chesnokov
Ms. Nakamura is now the manager of the Japanese women’s team, while Mr. Chesnokov is a FIVB Control Committee member for the Volleyball competition.
“The memory of returning to the Olympics is amazing,” said Ms. Nakamura. “I was stunned by the great reaction of the spectators and the fans. There are quite a few Japanese followers here so it is quite emotional.”
The 2004 Athens Olympics are the first Olympic Games for Ms. Nakamura since she captained the 1964 Japanese side to the inaugural Olympic Volleyball title. While for FIVB Executive Vice-President Mr. Chesnokov this represents his 10th Olympic Games in total, from which he has claimed all three medals. He won gold as a player in 1964, claimed a silver and bronze medal as coach in 1972 and 76 respectively and has attended six Olympic Games as an official.
“It’s a thrill to witness the 40th anniversary of Volleyball at the Olympics,” Mr. Chesnokov said. “There has been a complete revolution of the sport over the years thanks to the FIVB President Dr. Rubén Acosta and right now Volleyball is a wonderful spectacle.”
Ms. Nakamura started in her new role with the Japanese side in 2003 and now she is hoping her team of 2004 can repeat her performance in 1964 and win gold. However, to do that Japan need to beat Kenya and hope Greece lose to Italy on the last day of the Preliminary Round on Sunday in order to book a quarterfinal spot.
“I’m very proud of what this team has achieved over the past year and hopefully we can continue with some of that great form here at the Olympics," she said. "The team is still in the process of improving but for an inexperienced, young side they are achieving remarkable things.”

D-Day for quartet as South Americans defend unbeaten records
ATHENS, August 21 – The American, Dutch, Polish and French Men's Volleyball teams all face must-win games while Brazil and Argentina will attempt to preserve unbeaten records and their lofty positions atop their respective pools when the fourth day of the men’s Volleyball competition starts on Saturday. Pic: Marcos Milincovic and his Argentine team will be looking to go top of Pool A
The action at the Peace and Friendship Stadium starts at 09:00 with a Pool B between the United States (1-2) and  Australia (0-3). With a final preliminary game against the world champion Brazilians to follow, the Americans must see off Australia to stay in the frame for the quarterfinals.
The Netherlands (1-2) face their own crunch match at 11:00 against Pool B rivals Italy (2-1), currently ranked No.2 in the world. The Dutch will anticipate a win over Australia in their last game, so they will give themselves a real chance of making the quarterfinals if they can beat the Italians.
Next up, at 14:00, is the Poland (1-2) v Tunisia (0-3) game. Losers in their past two Pool A games, the Poles cannot afford to slip up here with a date against Argentina in their last preliminary game.
Defending Olympic champions Serbia & Montenegro (2-1) play Argentina (3-0) at 16:00, with the winner likely to top Pool A, while world No.4 France (1-2) follow at 19:30 against hosts Greece (2-1). If the French can win this Pool A game they will expect earn a quarterfinal berth by beating Tunisia in their final game.
The closing game of the day is the tantalising showdown between Brazil (3-0) and Russia (2-1). With top spot in Pool B up for grabs, this should be a classic.
ONS sk/imc