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Eight squads set to battle in Tokyo for last Olympic spots
Eight teams are set to begin the contention for the last four remaining spots in the women’s volleyball competition of the 2012 London Olympic Games in Tokyo, the Japanese city that hosted the first ever volleyball Olympic tournament 48 years ago.
The FIVB World Olympic Qualification Tournament who doubles as Asian Olympic Continental Qualifier sees the sides from Serbia, Russia, Cuba and Peru joining hosts Japan, Korea, Thailand and Chinese Taipei for the round-robin event that runs from May 19 to 27, including two days of rest, at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
The top three placed teams and the best ranked Asian side, independently of which countries finish in the podium positions, will be granted with tickets to the upcoming Summer Games at the United Kingdom’s capital.
Teams already with secured berths in London are hosts Great Britain, Italy, United States and China as top-three ranked at the 2011 FIVB World Cup and the winners of Olympic Continental Qualifiers Algeria, Dominican Republic, Turkey and Brazil.
The General Technical Meeting will take place on Thursday evening followed by the traditional press conference with the teams’ coaches.
Friday’s action features Chinese Taipei against Serbia at 11:00 followed by the match between Thailand and Russia at 13:00. Korea meets Cuba at 16:00 and Peru challenged Japan at 19:10.
The third world ranked Japan, is seeking to add to its record of 10 participations in the Olympic Games which includes the gold medals in Tokyo 1964 and Montreal 1976, silvers in Mexico 1968 and Munich 1972 and a bronze medal in Los Angeles 1984.
European champions and World Grand Prix bronze medalists Serbia, currently ranked No. 6, are looking for a second pass to the Summer Games following a fifth place tied with Russia in the 2008 Beijing event.
World Champions Russia, ranked No. 7 and the most successful women’s team in the history of the Olympics with four gold medals and four silvers, were crowned here in Tokyo when the capital of Japan hosted the final round of the FIVB 2010 Women’s World Championship. The Russians claimed Olympic titles in 1968, 1972, Moscow 1980 and Seoul 1988, and finished as runners-up in 1964, 1976, Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004.
The three-time Olympic queens and No. 10 Cuba follow Russia in the table of gold medals with top consecutive finishes in Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and 2000 to go along with a bronze in 2004.
The No. 12 Thailand is seeking for its first ever opportunity to be in the Summer Games. They finished sixth in last year’s FIVB World Grand Prix and claimed the title of the 2009 Asian Championship when downed China.
Korea, next to Thailand in the FIVB World Rankings at No. 13, has taken part in nine Olympic Games including a bronze medal in Montreal.
Peru has made seven visits to the Olympics with the highest honor for the world No. 17 in the form of a silver medal in the 1988 edition when lost a memorable five-setter to Russia.
Chinese Taipei, the No. 28 in the world has never participated in the Olympics and arrives into the tournament as the fifth ranked team of Asia since China is already qualified to London.