Volleyball: Russia qualify for Olympics
Russia became the first team to qualify for the London Olympics next year when they defeated Iran to secure one of the top three places at the World Cup men's volleyball tournament on Saturday.
The 1999 champions, also four-time cup winners as the former Soviet Union, overcame a tough first set before scoring a 31-29, 25-21, 25-18 win for a 9-1 win-loss record in the 12-team round robin competition.
They have now 27 points from 10 matches and they are unbeatable for fourth placed Italy on 18 points, who will play Japan later in the day.
"I'm really happy that we qualified for the Olympic Games," said Russian coach Vladimir Alekno.
"I'd like to thank my players who did their job pretty well and obtained very good results. We will have an important match tomorrow against Poland. Hopefully, we can take the chances that we will have," he said.
Maxim Mikhaylov was the team's top scorer of the day with 15 points while captain Taras Khtey scored 13 and Denis Biriukov 14.
Khtey admitted the team were tired at the end of the long tournament, but steadied himself looking forward to the match against Poland on the final day on Sunday.
"We will have the most important match against Poland tomorrow. We are going to be ready for it," said Khtey.
In other action, European champions Serbia defeated China 24-26, 25-18, 25-19, 25-12 for a 4-6 record.
© 2011 AFP