Russia rebuilding with Tokyo 2020 in their sights


Russia are focusing on give young players a chance this season

Lausanne, Switzerland, June 12, 2017 – Russia are focusing on the long term and the aim of making an impact at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. 

Sergey Shlyapnikov’s have won two and lost four so far in the 2017 FIVB World League, with only victories over Argentina and Italy so far. However, with a team filled with players who won a variety of age-group world titles the aim is to fill them with experience by the time Tokyo 2020 starts. 
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“First of all it is very important that the young players have this experience,” spiker Maxim Zhigalov said. “For me it is a really good opportunity to experience this tournament and to grow and that is the same for every player in this team. 

“Most of the young players have won junior world championships or European Championships, so they have a lot of motivation and ambition.”

Russia won gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games and it was the highlight of a period when Vladimir Alekno’s team dominated men’s volleyball. 

Their run began a year earlier when they won the 2011 World League and they also won the 2013 edition as well as the CEV European Championship. 

However, as the London 2012 stars began to retire they results started to slip and only Dmitriy Ilinykh remains from the team that triumphed in 2012. 

They finished sixth at the 2014 World League, but failed to qualify for the final six at the 2015 and 2016 tournaments. Then at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games they narrowly missed out on a medal when they lost to the USA in the bronze medal match. 

At the same time though their junior teams were enjoying their own run of success. They won the 2013 and 2015 U21 World Championship, the 2015 U23 World Championship and to complete a golden 2015, the U19 World Championship. 
Egor Feoktistov, Ilia Vlasov, Pavel Pankov, Ilyas Kurkaev, Alexander Kimerov, Dmitry Volkov and Egor Kliuka were all part of the successful age-group teams now part of the World League squad. 

“Right now the most important thing is that we have time to prepare and work on our combinations and then we can show, what we can show,” Zhigalov said. “It isn’t out highest level, because I know we can play much better. 

“We just need to grow from game to game. It is the type of situation where you need to clear your mind and believe in your power, yourself and the whole team. You just have to go to the court and show your best.”


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