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Paris is a city that is intricately linked with the sport of Volleyball. It was in the City of Light, in 1947, that the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) was established and since that moment Franceís national team have made their presence felt on the Volleyball courts around the world. The 1956 World Championship was held in Paris, with the Tricolours taking seventh place. Thirty years later the same event was held in the same city with the French ranked sixth.

The Ď80s decade found France among Europeís Volleyball elite. The bronze medal in 1985, in Amsterdam, was the teamís first international medal. The silver medal at the European Championship in Gant followed two years later. Their first Olympic Games participation came in 1988, with France finishing in eighth place. In 1992, in Barcelona, they were ranked 11th, which was how Franceís most successful team came full circle.

The new Millennium has signaled Franceís counterattack: fifth in 2001 at the World League event; the bronze medal at the 2002 World Championship, after bringing Olympic gold medalists Serbia and Montenegro to heel in the bronze medal match; and fifth in last yearís World Cup, confirming their rise in the world of competition.

The magic wand of coach Philippe Blain (who was the 1987 European MVP despite the French defeat by the Soviet Union in the final) and the talent of Frantz Granvorka, Loic De Kergret, Laurent Capet, Philippe Barca-Cysique, Dominique Daquin, Stephane Antiga and Hubert Henno will guide the French national teamís efforts to achieve distinction at the Athens Olympic tournament.

One thing that has plagued this team of quality talent is consistency. Just when this wonderfully exciting side has produced one of their top-draw performances, which is capable of outdoing the top teams, they tend to follow it up with a match they would rather forget. This yearís World League they went close to qualifying but donít read anything into that as coach Blain admitted that as far as France was concerned, all eyes were on Athens.