2010: Brazil's men complete World Championship hat-trick - Russia's women do the double
In 2010, the volleyball superpowers at the FIVB World Championships in Italy and Japan defended the titles they had won four years earlier. Brazil's men completed a hat-trick of golds after their victories in 2002 and 2006, while Russia's women did the double when they successfully defended their 2006 title.
Just as they had four years earlier, Russia's women prevented Brazil's team from dominating the final with a spectacular 3-2 victory. Brazil's women are still to win their first World Championship title. Their men, however, made history with their third title in a row.
In the history of the World Championships, only Italy had pulled off the same feat, winning the World Championships in 1990, 1994 and 1998. Three players were involved in all three Brazilian victories: Dante, Rodrigão, and Giba. They joined Italians Andrea Giani, Andrea Gardini, Ferdinando De Giorgi and Marco Bracci as the only seven players in history who have claimed three consecutive gold medals at the FIVB Men’s Volleyball World Championship.
Brazil's men did not have a smooth ride to their hat-trick of golds at these title showdowns. In the preliminary round, MVP Murilo Endres and his team lost 2-3 to Cuba, and then 0-3 to Bulgaria in the second round. The tournament format, however, meant Brazil were still able to progress. When it came to crunch time, the Brazilians showed why they were the best team in the world. They booked their place in the semifinal with a 3-0 victory over Germany. They then beat hosts Italy 3-1, putting a sudden end to their hopes of winning the title. Then it was on to the final, where, with a commanding 3-0 victory, they defeated Cuba and gained revenge for the negative preliminary round result.
“This is my third title, and it is an incredible joy for me once again. Our team is capable of resolving difficult situations and this is probably one of the secrets of our success,” said Dante. Brazil captain Giba added: “We played united as a team and as a family and that’s the reason for our victory.” And successful coach Bernardo Rezende said: “I think the key is that we only focus on the next tournament as the most important one, regardless of the previous victories. With that in mind, the players have every reason to keep working harder. I don’t keep track of the numbers.”
For Cuba's men, who included best blocker Robertlandy Simon, their second World Championship silver medal after the one earned in 1990 was hailed a great success; hosts Italy missed out on a medal after losing 1-3 to Serbia in the bronze medal match. Joint favourites Russia were also disappointed, finishing in fifth – the team caused some bad feeling with their tactical World Championship defeat to Spain, who featured the tournament’s top scorer, Iban Perez, in their team.
In Japan, Russia's women showed their men the way forward, winning their second World Championship in a row. Eleven successive victories secured their seventh World Championship title overall (five of these were won by predecessor state the Soviet Union). Led by 35 points from the tournament's Most Valuable Player, Ekaterina Gamova, Russia defeated Olympic champions Brazil 3-2 (21-25, 25-17, 20-25, 25-14, 15-11) in a five-set marathon to win the gold medal in front of a full house of 12,000 fans at the Yoyogi National Stadium in Tokyo. Brazil had previously also won their ten matches, including a 3-2 victory over Japan in the semifinal. The strong host team beat USA 3-2 to secure bronze and their first World Championship medal in 32 years. Turkey, with Neslihan Darnel, who was top scorer once again, finished sixth to record their best ever result.
However, all eyes were on double winners Russia after a final which was both dramatic and of the highest technical level. "It wasn't just about volleyball," Russia's coach Vladimir Kuzyutkin said. "Brazil played very well, and both teams demonstrated a great quality of volleyball. I'm very thrilled that we got the win, and I'm very happy for my team. This wasn't only about sport today, it was about character.” He went on to praise the outstanding Ekaterina Gamova: "Gamova isn't just a leader in the team, she was able to take the chances she had throughout the match. We had three or four young players who didn't have a lot of experience. More than being just about sport, today was about our will to win."
Read about earlier editions of the competition by clicking on the links below:
2006: Brazil and Russia triumph at World Championships in Japan
2002: Brazil's men and Italy's women win first World Championship titles
1998: Hat-trick gold winners Italy and Cuba successfully defend their titles
1994: Cuba and Italy claim World Championship titles
1990: Last World Championship title for the Soviet Union and first for Italy
1986: USA bring a halt to East European dominance
1982: The Soviet Union and China win gold at World Championships
1978: Italy and Cuba step into World Championships spotlight
1974: Poland surprise favourites to win Men's World Championships
1970: Surprise World Championship gold for the German Democratic Republic
1966 and 1967: Soviet Union empty-handed for the first time
1962: Japan’s ladies produced “volleyball from another planet” to end the dominance of the hosts, the Soviet Union
1960: Volleyball fever in Brazil, both World Championship titles go to the Soviet Union again
1956: Czechoslovakia claim trophy in Paris
1952: Soviet Union win double gold in Moscow
1949: Soviet Union win inaugural World Championships