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BRA/BRAZIL 

Brazil has been the South American No. 1 power since 1951 when they won the continent's championship for the first time. A winning streak of 24 consecutive titles has continued onto the international scene.

Brazil ended a spellbinding 2003 season ranked as the world’s best Volleyball team having won both the World League in Spain and the World Cup in Japan. Now in 2004 they enter the Olympic Games with their World League title successfully defended in Italy in July.

The country's Volleyball excellence, however, has a far greater reach. The Brazilians, who competed at their first World Championship in 1956 finishing 11th, have been among the world's best leading Volleyball nations since 1978. At the 1982 Worlds in Argentina, they won the silver medal,then finished fourth three times in a row in France, 1986, Brazil, 1990, and 1998 in Japan before finally collecting gold for the first time in Argentina in 2002 when they beat Russia 3-2 in a nail-biting final.

The team put on an outstanding performance there as a complete unit, but also had its stars, among them Andre Nascimento who was awarded the best spiker of the tournament and Maurico Lima who was named the best setter. The World Championship victory was yet another prize for Brazil's impressive collection of major international titles.

In 1992, Brazil won the Olympic tournament in Barcelona after they had also won the silver medal earlier in Los Angeles in 1984. They also have an impressive record at the World Cup having only missed one tournament – the first in 1965 – and collecting gold last year and two bronze medals in 1981 and 1995 in the process.

Brazil is also one of the countries to have participated in all editions of the prestigious World League tournament. Head coach Bernardo "Bernardinho" Rezende, who took over the national squad in 2001, led Brazil to victory in the competition in the same year and in 2003 and 2004.

As World Championship winners, World Cup and World League title holders Brazil are definitely one of the favourites going
into the 2004 Olympic Games.