London 2012

Press release

Olympic Countdown 1988: Soviet women leave Peru Seoul destroyed

USA men's team celebrate their triumphant gold medal victory over the USSR at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games

Lausanne, Switzerland, April 26, 2012 - It could be said that the women’s Olympic volleyball competition of 1988 turned on two fateful moments, the first coming when Africa declined to enter a team, and a qualification tournament for their place was held in Italy. It was won by the three times Olympic champions USSR (East Germany had qualified as European champions).

With reigning world and Olympic champions China as well as twice Olympic champions Japan, the competition in Seoul was always going to be fierce. And there were dark horses in the shape of Peru, who had been on the podium at the 1982 and 1986 World Championships and were led by Cecilia Tait and Denise Fajardo, considered among the best female players in the world at that time.

In the event it was the USSR and Peru who reached the final. China took the bronze medal from Japan in straight sets, but the final itself was a real nail-biter. Peru took the first two sets, and led 12-6 in the third, just three points from their country’s second-ever Olympic gold medal. But then came the second fateful moment.

Soviet coach Nicolai Karpol called a timeout and made three changes and watched as his team came from behind to win the third set, then the fourth and take the first six points of the fifth. But Peru were not finished. They clawed their way back to 7-7, fell behind again, then went in front 15-14. But after both teams had fought off match points it was the Soviet Union who prevailed, 10-15, 12-15, 15-13, 15-7, 17-15.

In the men’s event defending champions USA, led by the peerless Karch Kiraly, came through the pool phase unbeaten despite being taken to five sets by Argentina (who eventually finished third after beating Brazil in a marathon third-place match that lasted three hours and 10 minutes). In the final, after dropping the first set USA proved too powerful for the USSR, winning 13-15, 15-10, 15-4, 15-8.

This article is one of a series in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympic Games as the FIVB looks back at previous Olympic volleyball tournaments.

For week one’s piece on the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games click here

For week two’s piece on the Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games click here

For week three’s piece on the Munich 1972 Olympic Games click here

For week four’s piece on the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games click here

For week five’s piece on the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games click here

Download highresolution

| More

More press releases

26.12.2012 09:41:42
Olympic Volleyball review - Stunning finals highlight terrific tournament
Lausanne, Switzerland, December 26, 2012 - As part of an end-of-year review series, the FIVB takes a look back at the outstanding volleyball competiti... More...
22.08.2012 09:57:22
Russia sets the bar high, but expect big changes from Brazil and USA, says Tom Hoff
Lausanne, Switzerland, August 22, 2012 - In a final retrospective on the London Olympics, former USA captain Tom Hoff talks about the Russian players ... More...
12.08.2012 18:31:48
Russia come from behind to win Olympic title after 32 years, Brazil and Italy get silver and bronze
London, Great Britain, August 12, 2012 – The last day of action of the men’s volleyball tournament at Earls Court provided all fans with the right cli... More...
12.08.2012 18:30:00
Brazilian legend Giba calls time on career
London, Great Britain, August 12, 2012 – Brazil captain and legend Giba has called time on his 20-year international career after the heart-breaking 3... More...
12.08.2012 18:18:40
Last man standing: Russian hero Sergey Tetyukhin
London, Great Britain, August 8, 2012 – For the first time ever, a team which was down 2-0 in an Olympic final fought back to win gold. In the middle ... More...
12.08.2012 18:00:28
Mikhaylov masterfully aids comeback win for men’s gold
London, Great Britain, August 12, 2012 – Brazil may have started at warp speed, but Russia came back even stronger from a 0-2 set deficit to win the l... More...
12.08.2012 17:59:40
Muserskiy sets scoring record on way to gold medal
London, Great Britain, August 12, 2012 – Russia’s Dmitriy Muserskiy may have set a new scoring record of 31 points for an Olympic Games volleyball gol... More...
12.08.2012 16:33:15
Russia come from behind to save two match balls as Dmitriy Muserskiy leads the way to Olympic gold
London, Great Britain, August 12, 2012 – After two and a half sets the script of the final match in the men’s Olympic tournament was almost completed,... More...
12.08.2012 16:00:45
Papi: his fourth medal is for his friend Vigor
London, Great Britain, August 12, 2012 - Italy Samuele Papi is the only player here in London, together with Russia Sergey Tetyukhin, having four Olym... More...
12.08.2012 13:27:44
Zaytsev hopes bronze will take Italy back to top of volleyball world
London, Great Britain, August 12, 2012 – Italy’s bronze medal at the London Olympic Games was their first in a major tournament since silver at Athens... More...