Friday, May 23, 2008
Japan Women's National Volleyball Team qualifies for Beijing Olympics
(photo shamelessly stolen from Megumi Kurihara's blog)
The Japan Women's National Volleyball Team beat their Asian rivals South Korea 25-20, 25-19, 21-25, 25-13 to clinch a berth to the Beijing Olympics. The women placed 5th in the 2004 Olympics and the team is currently ranked 8th in the world. Japan won the gold in '64 and '76 but haven't placed in the top three at the Olympics since 1984. The sport has seen a sort of resurgence in popularity in Japan as of late and recent tournaments involving the team have been broadcast during Golden Time.
Some of the popularity of the women's team is due in part to the team's young stars such as Megumi Kurihara 栗原恵 (Princess Megu プリンセス・メグ) and the way the team is marketed. Several team members have only their given names printed on their uniforms and some go by nicknames (Miyuki Takahashi 高橋みゆき goes by the name Shin). Kurihara, who graduated from high school in Hofu City, Yamaguchi, is extensively featured on the covers of volleyball magazines.
Volleyball at the Beijing Olympics will be held from August 9, 2008 to August 24, 2008