Did you know– Japan’s coach Akira Kato was a revolutionary and visionary in the field of volleyball as he led Peru to become one of the four best female squads in the Games of the 19th Olympiad in the United Mexican States (behind the Soviet Union, Japan and Poland). Thanks to him, the women’s volleyball team of Peru was an Olympic leader in the Western Hemisphere between 1965 and 1973, winning many Continental Championships, well ahead of Argentina and Brazil. At least 50% of Peru’s volleyball players in the 1960s were discovered by Japan’s Akira Kato, including Mercedes “Meche” Gonzales, Luisa Fuentes, Norma Velarde, and Pilancho Jimenez. Under his guidance, Gonzales competed in Mexico’68 at the age of 14, becoming one of Latin America’s youngest athletes in Olympic history. Just before the FIVB World Championships in the modern city of Lima, Peru’s capital city, in the early 80s, unfortunately Kato died.
Did you know– Since October 1987, the Republic of Brazil, a Portuguese-speaking country, is one of the few places in Latin America with a host of world-class players such as Fernanda Venturini (1.81m-tall), Waleska Oliveira (1.90), Ana Beatriz Moser (1.85), Sheila Castro (1.85), Marcia Cunha (1.86) and Thaisa Menezes (1.96). Ana Moser is member of the Volleyball Hall of Fame. By 2008, the women’s volleyball team from Brazil reached its peak when they finished first in the Games of the 29th Olympiac in Beijing (China), capturing the gold medal after a victory over America in the finals.
Did you know– For the first time in the history of the Summer Games, between July 29 and August 4, 1992, the women’s volleyball squad of Spain, among the worst teams in Europe, competed in the Olympic Tournament when the 25th Olympic Games were held in Barcelona. During the competition, Spain’s squad, led by Martha Gens, lost 3-0 (15-3, 15-0, 15-3) to the USSR. Later on, Japan routed Spain 3-0 (15-9, 15-1, 15-6). Subsequently, America defeated the Europeans 3-0 (15-4,15-5,15-10). After being eliminated in the first round, the host country lost 3-0 (15-1, 15-3, 15-3) to the People’s Republic of China, finishing eighth (last) in the Olympic event. A year ago, the Spaniard squad had been invited to participate in the VI World Cup on Japanese soil. At the time, Spain’s volleyball player Martha Gens was selected to play for the World Team, being the first Spaniard to receive that honor.
Did you know– The host country, the Soviet Union, took gold in the 1980 Summer Games, after finishing third in the FIVB Moscow World Championships in 1978 and eighth in the Tokyo World Cup in 1977. The 1980 Olympic Tournament was plagued by the boycott. For political reasons, USA, Japan and the People’s Republic of China (replaced by Bulgaria, Hungary and Brazil) refused to send volleyball players to Russia.