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Men's U21 MVP looking to hard work for success

Viktor Poletaev was MVP at the U21 World Championship

Kazan, Russia, September 4, 2013 –Russia has a new “golden boy” in volleyball. In only six months, 18-year-old Viktor Poletaev has won gold in all the major tournaments he has entered: the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship, the FIVB Men’s U19 World Championship, the European Youth Olympic Festival and the FIVB Men’s U21 World Championship in Ankara. 

Although he was one of the youngest players in the tournament in last week’s U21 championship, Poletaev was named “Most Valuable Player”, after his team won gold by edging Brazil in the final.  

“Although the final game of the U21 Championship was supposed to be the toughest match for us in Turkey, everything seemed to go so easily for us and eventually we really enjoyed the game,” Poletaev recalled. “But I have to say that Brazil did not really show what they are capable of. However, I am happy that once more – as we did in the Olympics and the World League Finals this year – Russia beat Brazil.”

Despite the ease of the final match, Poletaev said he wasn’t expecting to be named MVP.

“I was very surprised, especially since I am much younger than most of the players there,” he said. “The MVP is usually a member of the team that wins gold, so this individual award was a very nice addition to our result as a team.”

Although Poletaev is on the roster of one of Russia’s most decorated teams – Zenit KAZAN – Poletaev was born in Chelyabinsk, where his parents still reside.

“I will have a break of two weeks now and just want to go home and spend some time with my family. I know they miss me and worry about me when I am traveling around.”

At 193 cm, some people have been worried that Poletaev may not be tall enough or strong enough for the senior division.

“Up to now, I’ve been able to compensate for this ‘deficiency’ with my jumping power, as I reach 360 cm, but if this is not enough, I may switch from opposite to outside hitter,” he said.  

Poletaev started playing volleyball in the second grade and was introduced to the sport by his father.

“Some scouts from Kazan noticed me when I was playing in a youth tournament,” he said. “Two years ago, I decided to try to pursue a career in volleyball and moved to Tatarstan. Zenit KAZAN is one of the best teams in Europe and I feel privileged to be here alongside many stars.”

In his spare time, Poletaev enjoys going to the cinema with his girlfriend, Varya Lebedeva, or just taking a walk through the streets of Kazan. Lebedeva also shares the love for volleyball, which she plays for with Russian champion team Dinamo KAZAN. 

“We do not have any plans to get married; we are still too young, I think. My priority is to work hard and turn this hard work into a professional career in volleyball. As soon as possible I would like to become a regular member of the roster of Zenit KAZAN.”

There, the 18-year-old has a good role model to follow.

“Maxim Mikhaylov is the player that I admire the most,” he said. “For me, he embodies the ideal volleyball player. Our head coach, Vladimir Alekno, has decided to include me in the first team and it was nice to train with Maxim and other famous players. They are all extremely supportive and help me with their advice.”

FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship home page 
Twitter - @FIVB Volleyball@FIVBMensU21 
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