The national volleyball selection is currently preparing in Kranjska Gora, where they will play two friendly matches with Italy as the final tests before going to London. For the first time after more than a decade our team will participate in a big competition without Ivan Miljkovic. For the volleyball selection it is the fifth Olympic cycle in a row – in Atlanta they won the Bronze, in Sydney gold, in Athens and Beijing the fifth place. The middle blocker of our team Dragan Stankovic tells our radio that it is hard to forecast the accomplishments of this generation. According to him, it is most important that they believe in themselves and the team and be patient, from one match to another, without pondering some goal that is set upfront.
Stankovic says there is no special anxiety, although this is his first appearance in the Olympic Games. “Every contest is a story in itself. The Olympic Games take place once in four years and it is really hart to reach. But, once the matches start, nobody thinks whether it is the Olympics of the qualifiers, European or world championships. In the court it is all the same”.
The Serbian volleyball team is in a tough group, opening against the current Olympic champions – Americans, and also there are Brazil and Russia. The chance is to be sought against the teams of Tunisia and Germany. First four selections will qualify for the quarter-final, and once they reach this knockout phase, everything is possible.
Stankovic confirms that Brazil and Russia are favorites, not only in our group but in the entire Olympic tournament as well. “We have such a schedule that in the first three rounds we will be playing against the teams that are on our level, with the possible exception of Tunisia, so we will battle for our chance to reach the quarter-final”.
Our younger categories are European and world champions. Our selection has recently played against almost each of the rivals, sometimes in their strongest and sometimes in combined composition. It seems that this “renovated” selection of European champions awakens respect in the others. Stankovic agrees, but adds that they will not rely too much on past results, but focus on what comes. Speaking of the favorites, our collocutor points first and foremost to Brazil, which has the continuity of winning titles, but also in that rank are Americans, Russians, Polish and Cubans.
“All national teams have come to the Olympics after rigorous qualifications, they have the quality and stand some chance. The tournament is long, but in the knockout stage, starting with the quarter-final, everything is possible”, says Serbian volleyball representative Dragan Stankovic.