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ARG/ARGENTINA 

With a strong Latin American element, Argentina appear ready to spring surprises on the other medal contenders at the Athens Olympic tournament. After all, it was one such surprise that they reserved early this year for Venezuela, whom they defeated in the South America Olympic Qualification tournament, on the Venezuelans’ own home ground in Caracas, which secured them their ticket to Athens.

The Argentine team finished fourth in the Sydney Olympic Games, eliminating their perennial opponents Brazil in the quarterfinal. It was the only defeat the Celeção suffered, a defeat that did not allow them to contend for a medal.

The homeland of Tango made its Olympic debut in Los Angeles in 1984, where they finished sixth. In Seoul four years later, Argentina climbed onto the third step of the podium and ranked eighth in 1996, in Atlanta. The greatest international success of the ‘gauchos’ was the bronze medal in 1982 at the event they hosted in Buenos Aires. The team of Marcos Milinkovic, who will be taking part in his third Olympic tournament, the multitalented Jorge Elgueta and the efficient libero Pablo Meana are hoping to haunt the great teams in the sport.

This team hasn’t had the best of build ups after the Argentina Federation (FAV) was suspended in 1993 for non respect of the FIVB decisions about its suspended, then expelled former president Mario Goijman. A new federation (FE.V.A. – Federation del Voleibol Argentino) replaced the expelled FAV as the official body of Argentine Volleyball earlier this year and the men’s team has been playing as many warm up games as possible. Good results in July against the likes of Canada and Australia are a strong signal that all is still well in Argentine Volleyball and the blue and whites will still be a threat in Athens.