Brazilian women are gunning for their third straight Olympic title, done only once before by women in the history of the Olympics. This after taking bronze, silver and silver the previous three Olympics. Brazilian men are hoping that three’s the charm, after finishing second to Russia and the US the last two Olympics, after taking gold in 2004.
But there are thin margins for error. In the men’s competition, Brazil is ranked number one in the world. But #2 Poland, #4 Italy and #5 USA (which defeated Brazil for gold at the 2008 Beijing Games) are considered strong contesters for gold. And then, there’s #3 Russia, which was reinstated by the IOC (and which defeated Brazil for gold in the 2012 London Games).
The Brazilian’s women’s team is ranked world number 2, but they won the World Volleyball Grand Prix in July, defeating #1 ranked USA in a five-set thriller. The Netherlands and Russia were also strong, although a favorite, #3 ranked China, did not finish well. All of those countries, including Japan, are in the hunt for gold in Rio.
But as they say, volleyball is Brazil’s national sport (because soccer is their religion). With the home crowd behind their teams, the noise deafening inside Maracanazinho Gymnasium, Brazil’s indoor volleyball teams, both men’s and women’s could possibly make it a home sweep.