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BRA/BRAZIL 

Brazilian Volleyball, just like its culture and lifestyle, is full of passion and flavour and it is these qualities the womenís national side will be counting on as they attack the 2004 Olympic Games. Brazil, ranked third in the world, are currently easing through a rebuilding phase and with that, they have attracted a lot of off-court attention as the team looks to return to its glory days of the 1990s.

The turning point was in 2003. Following a seventh place finish at the annual World Grand Prix, coach Marco Motta was replaced by Josť Roberto Lages Guimar„es, an Olympic champion in Barcelona 1992 with the menís national team.

The first move by Guimar„es was to bring back many players who had been away from the courts for a long time. Erika Coimbra, Elis‚ngela Oliveira, Fernanda Venturini, Fof„o and Walewska Oliveira, who all helped Brazil claim bronze at the Sydney 2000 Olympics came to the rescue and led the team to the silver medal at the 2003 World Cup. That fantastic result came on the back of the Brazilians winning the South American Championship in Colombia all of which means Brazil have jumped to third on the FIVB world ranking list.

In his team reshuffle, Guimar„es didnít forget the new generation. He is also working with some young talent in the way of middle blockers Valeskinha and Fabiana Claudino. Fabiana,for example, won the gold medal at the 2003 Junior World Championships in Thailand where she received the best attacker award.

The Brazilian womenís team are determined to emulate the immense success their male counterparts are currently enjoying and on the basis of the quick progress made thus far, their collective ambition may be fulfilled at the Olympic Games.

Any podium finish will add to a healthy trophy cabinet which stocks two Olympic bronze medals (Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000), a silver in the S„o Paulo World Cup (1994), six Grand Prix medals (three golds, in 1994, 1996, and 1998; two silvers,in 1995 and 1999, and a bronze, in 2000), three World Cup medals (silver in 1995 and 2003, bronze in 1999) and 24 championship medals, 13 of them gold.