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USA celebrates 1964 Olympic Volleyball 50th Anniversary


Colorado Springs, USA, May 21, 2014 – USA Volleyball celebrated the 50th Anniversary of volleyball’s inclusion in the Olympic Games during the national governing bodies’ annual Dorothy C. Boyce Awards Banquet that took place Wednesday evening in Phoenix.

“USA Volleyball is extra proud to honour the pioneering Olympians on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first Olympics with volleyball," USA Volleyball CEO and FIVB Board of Administration member Doug Beal said. "In every case, these were exceptional athletes and frontrunners for the growth of the sport worldwide. We all owe them a huge debt of gratitude and our undying respect. For our women's team, they opened the door for future women to participate on the world’s largest stage."

The US participated in the inaugural volleyball Olympics at the 1964 Tokyo Games, which meant volleyball was the first women's team sport to be contested at the Olympic Games leading to a great step forward for sports gender equality around the world.

“It has been so great seeing all these familiar faces, my former teammates,” said Nancy Owen Fortner, member of the 1964 US Olympic women’s volleyball team. “It is so amazing to be a part of the first women’s Olympic volleyball team. Fifty years ago, I was only 21 years old. I just remember that I was so young and so in awe of everything about the Olympics."

During the 50 years of Olympic volleyball, Team USA has won three men’s Olympic gold medals and a bronze medal, while the women have secured three silver medals and a bronze medal. No other country has won at least one Olympic medal in volleyball or beach volleyball in every Olympic Games since 1984.

“I have watched volleyball the last 50 years, and the brightest spot has been the young women who have been injected into the picture,” said Mike O’Hara, member of the 1964 US Olympic men’s volleyball team. “When I played early on, there were not nearly as many women playing volleyball as men – that is both on the indoor courts and on the beach. And now everywhere you look around the world, Beach volleyball is being watched and applauded. All young kids want to play.”

According to 1964 US Olympic men’s volleyball team captain Pete Velasco, there was great pride playing for one’s country in the first Olympics to include volleyball.

“My experience in the 1964 Olympics was very exciting for me because I was not only representing the United States, which I was proud, but also for the state of Hawaii," Velasco said.

The United States Olympic Committee joined in the celebration as its CEO Scott Blackmun sent a video message to the 1964 Olympians and the Boyce attendees.

“On behalf of the US Olympic Committee, I want to join everyone tonight in recognizing the great athletes on our 1964 Olympic Team who competed in volleyball,” Blackmun said. “That was important not only because it was the first time volleyball was in the Games, but it also was the first time that the women had a team sport at the Olympic Games. As we look back over the last 20 years, some of our best memories from the Summer Games have been in the sport of volleyball. Karch Kiraly, Misty May, Kerri Walsh – you all have done so much to build the great, great sport."


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