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Brazil win men's volleyball gold

August 29, 2004 23:02 IST
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An ecstatic team of Brazilian volleyball players cried, threw their coach in the air and dived head first on to the ground in unison after beating Italy 3-1 to win the men's Olympic gold medal on Sunday.

Tears of joy as they received their gold medal were replaced by huge grins as they stood in a circle just minutes later to toss head coach Bernardo Rezende into the air.

Then in a reprise of what they did repeatedly in the final match, the team lined up, ran and dived on to their stomachs as if they were leaping for a ball.

In addition to diving for balls in the final match, the world's top ranked side put up a wall of blockers and launched speedy attacks to rack up their 25-15, 24-26, 25-20, 25-22 victory against Italy.

Although Brazil easily won the first set, Italy -- trying to win the one volleyball prize they have yet to bag -- came fighting back to win the second.

But Brazil's blocking and serving overpowered the Sydney bronze medallists who failed to win another set.

Brazil last won an Olympic gold in 1992, but the team has been unbeatable in the past few years. After winning the 2002 world championship title they beat Italy last month to win the world league tournament.

"There's tremendous unity and cohesion -- it's all for one and one for all," Gilberto Godoy Filho, known as "Giba", said of the squad.

"Now we're going to celebrate and then it's back to work to defend all the titles," said Giba, who was voted most valuable player of the tournament. He was also the match's top scorer, with 20 points.

In the bronze medal match earlier, Russia beat the United States in straight sets.

The Sydney silver medallists' towering spikers and effective blocks at the net led them to a 25-22, 27-25, 25-16 victory over the United States.

The Americans fought hard in the first two sets but after failing to convert two set points in the second appeared to run out of steam.

Alexey Kuleshov, Russia's 2.06 metre striker, racked up 16 points as the match's high scorer.

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