Australia and Olympic Volleyball
Making its debut appearance as a demonstration sport way back at the 1924 Games in Paris, volleyball has come a long way in the Olympics and is now one of the most popular sports at the Games.
Olympic Volleyball comprises of two variations; indoor and beach.
Australia's indoor volleyball men competed at Sydney 2000, where they went down 1-3 to Italy in the quarterfinals. They then qualified for Athens 2004 and London 2012 but did not progress past the group rounds.
Australia's indoor women have so far only played at Sydney 2000, by way of being the host nation. They were eliminated during the group rounds.
Australia and Olympic Beach Volleyball
Kerri Pottharst and Natalie Cook won Australia’s first ever Olympic volleyball medal when they won the bronze on the beach at Atlanta in 1996 at the discipline's debut. Four years later in Sydney, Pottharst and Cook won the gold medal before thousands of hometown fans on Bondi Beach.
Tamsin Hinchley (Barnett), who played indoor volleyball for Australia in Sydney 2000, switched to the beach and finished fifth alongside Cook in Beijing 2008 before the duo again combined four years later.
The London Olympics marked Cook’s fifth and final Games. She bowed out as the only athlete to have competed in all five beach competitions since its Olympic inception and the first female summer Olympian to compete at five Games for Australia.
Outside of Cook and Pottharst's medals, it was the men’s pair of Julien Prosser and Mark Williams who have gone closest to another podium finish for Australia.The duo made the bronze medal match of Athens 2004 where they went down in the third set 13-15 to finish fourth.
Having competed in London with Becchara Palmer, Lousie Bawden returned to Olympic competition in Rio with Australia's first Indigenous beach volleyball athlete Taliqua Clancy.
The duo topped their pool with three straight wins before claiming a 2-1 victory over Poland in the round of 16. The win set up a clash with formidable USA pairing of Kerri Walsh-Jennings and April Walsh who went on to defeat the Aussies in straight sets.
Australia's other pairing in Rio, U/23 World Champions Nikki Laird and Mariafe Artacho del Solar, were unable to secure a win in what was a tough pool.
Beach volleyball gained Olympic status in Atlanta 1996.
The United States team of Charles “Karch” Kiraly and Kent Steffes won the men’s title. Kiraly was a member of the gold medal-winning United States team in indoor volleyball in Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988.
One Minute, One Sport | Volleyball
Video courtesy of tokyo2020.org / olympicchannel.com
Volleyball Olympic Merchandise
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