Photo: Brazilian Men's Volleyball team
The members of the Brazilian Olympic men’s volleyball team said here Thursday they have put a disappointing World League performance behind them and are ready to battle for the top prize in London.
Wing spiker Dante Amaral said the entire squad is “in good form” and has been training more intensely to achieve its “main goal” for this year: Olympic gold.
“We weren’t totally prepared for the (2012 FIVB Volleyball) World League. Our goal was the Olympic Games, not the League. Now our training is different, our rhythm is different,” the 31-year-old Dante said after a training session in the British capital.
Middle blocker Rodrigo Santana, known as Rodrigao, said the team is seeing the result of its hard work and is playing “with more coordination” than they had during the May 18-July 8 World League, in which Brazil finished sixth after being eliminated in the group phase.
Poland took the title, defeating the United States 3-0 in the final, which was played in Bulgaria.
The 33-year-old Rodrigao, who - like Dante - won a gold medal in Athens and a silver in Beijing, said Brazil is always the favorite and pledged to give his all in what he said will be his third and final Olympics appearance.
Referring to the other medal hopefuls, Rodrigao said no other team plays at Brazil’s pace although he acknowledged they have learned to adapt to the South Americans’ style.
Another member of the gold-winning squad in Athens, 36-year-old setter Ricardo Garcia, or Ricardinho, who recently returned to the squad after a five-year spat with coach Bernardinho, said he is recovering his maximum velocity.
“Coming back after five years is difficult. I’ve tried to adapt as quickly as possible. I’ve improved a lot in these last three weeks,” Ricardinho said.
Brazil is in Group B along with the United States (the defending Olympic gold medalist), Germany, Russia, Serbia and Tunisia, and will square off against that latter side in its opening match Sunday at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre.
The men’s gold medal match in volleyball will take place on Aug. 12.