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China, Brazil look for Olympic volleyball repeats

July 2, 2021 GMT

HIGHLIGHTS FROM RIO: The Chinese women beat Serbia to win gold for the third time in their history behind coach Lang Ping, who became the first person to win gold in volleyball as both a player and coach having won as a player in 1984. Host Brazil beat Italy in the men’s tournament for its third gold medal. Both U.S. teams medaled with each earning the bronze.

TOKYO EXPECTATIONS: Volleyball returns to its Olympic home having been first held at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The reigning gold medalists are in contention to win again five years later with Brazil’s Bruno Rezende seeking his fourth medal having won silver in 2008 and ’12 before getting gold in Rio. China has won back-to-back women’s World Cups to go along with the 2016 gold. Poland is a top contender on the men’s side, while the United States has a shot at its first gold medal ever on the women’s side.

ATHLETES TO WATCH: Brazil’s Alan Souza was the MVP of the 2019 World Cup and one of the top players headed into his first Olympics. Cuban-born Wilfredo Leon, who competes as an outside hitter for Poland, is known as the Cristiano Ronaldo of volleyball for his skill as an outside spiker. Among the top players on the women’s side are American Foluke Gunderson, who is back for a third Olympics after giving birth to her first child in 2019, and 2016 women’s MVP Zhu Ting of China.

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GOLD MEDAL MOMENTS: The men’s medals will be awarded on Aug. 7 with matches for the bronze and gold medal. The women’s medals will be contested for the following day, just before the closing ceremonies.

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