World Olympic Qualification Tournament
Porto, Portugal

Poland Claim Olympic Qualifying Spot

Porto, Portugal, May 23, 2004 - Poland secured a place at the 2004 Athens Olympics on Sunday with a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Kazakhstan in their third and final match of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Porto.

The 25-15, 25-13, 25-22 victory left Poland with an unbeaten record in the event and followed their thrilling five-set defeat of hosts Portugal on Saturday evening.

The Poles also beat Venezuela 3-0 in their opening tie on Friday.
Second place in the standings went to Venezuela after the Pan American champions defeated Portugal 26-24, 27-25, 25-21 in the final game.

“Up until this point we have only been thinking about this tournament and not about playing in the Olympic Games - but it feels great to have claimed our place in Athens,” said Poland coach Stanislaw Gosciniak, who was part of the Polish team that won the 1976 Olympic gold in Montreal.

“It is too early to say what we can achieve in Athens. Only now we can begin our preparations and we have a lot of hard work ahead of us.”

Polish captain Pawel Zagummy explained how it was crucial that his team were not complacent going into the game against Kazakhstan.
“The third game sealed our route to Athens but it was our victory over Portugal in the second match which was the key to our success,” said Zagummy.

“The most important thing was that we did not underestimate Kazakhstan. We had to make sure we played our best against them.”

Portugal were unable to bounce back from their disappointment at losing to Poland – a defeat that effectively put paid to their Olympic qualifying chances – and Juan Diaz’s team had to settle for third place in the Porto standings.

“Venezuela were very well organized and more focused than we were today,” said Portugal’s Brazilian coach Juan Diaz. “We played well against Poland on Saturday but we were beaten at the end by a team ranked higher in the world than us.

“Had Venezuela beaten Poland in the opening round then I think you would have seen a very different performance from us today.”

Kazakhstan finished rooted to the bottom with no wins and coach Alexandr Zapevalov will be disappointed his team were unable to claim a set.

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