is a popular sport that can be played indoors and out. It’s a combination of handball, basketball and tennis. Along with speed and agility, players have to exhibit the kind of athleticism that’s usually reserved for gymnastics.
Although a comparatively new invention as far as sports are concerned, volleyball has quickly emerged as an international front-runner. It has an active player base in just about every country in the world and billions of fans tune in to watch pro beach volleyball live.
Here are a few facts about volleyball:
In 1895 a gym instructor in the USA came up with the idea of hitting a large round ball over a six-foot-high net using any part of the body… with an emphasis on the hands and arms.
Points were scored every time the ball hit the ground in the opposing team’s court. In an imaginative play on the word ‘badminton’ the new sport emerged as ‘mintonette’.
Mintonette – the name – was short-lived. The fact that the sport consisted of multiple strikes or volleys meant that volleyball was a far more appropriate moniker for the six-man team sport.
From Action on the Western Front to an Olympic Event
Image Source: olympic.org
What started off as a school sport soon became a national pastime. US soldiers stationed at the Western Front in World War I regularly played volleyball in between skirmishing with the enemy.
It wasn’t only the armed forces that enjoyed the sport. Volleyball became staple fare at nudist camps across the States!
Such was it’s following that volleyball officially became an Olympic event in 1964. Today there are indoor and beach volleyball clubs and federations all over the world.
Dominant World Nations
At the apex of sporting achievement – which is the Summer Olympics – Brazil and the United States of America have dominated beach volleyball. The South American nation holds a record tally of 13 Olympic medals – three gold, seven silver and three bronze. Hot on its heels is the USA with a total of 10 medals – six gold, two silver and two bronze.
As far as the six-man format is concerned, the former Soviet Union has claimed the lion’s share of 12 medals, followed by Brazil and the USA with 10 apiece.
African Volleyball on the Rise
Image Source: the-star.co.ke
Although no Middle Eastern or African nation has ever won an Olympic medal for either format of the game, Angola, Algeria, Kenya, Cameroon, South Africa and Mauritius have qualified for the Olympic event.
On a totally different level in the women’s game, it’s the omnipotent Kenya Women’s National Volleyball team that has crushed all continental competitors. The Malkia Strikers
have claimed a record nine Women’s African Volleyball Championship titles!
A Million Dollar Sport
As a professional sport, volleyball pays out meagre pickings when compared to basketball, tennis and football. To the rest of us, it’s a million-dollar activity. Stars like the former model Gabriella Reece earned an annual salary of around $1,8 million in their heyday.
Interesting enough, it’s the one professional sport where women earn more than men. The precociously talented outside spiker for the Italian club Sir Sicoma Colussi Perugia, Wilfredo Leon banks ‘only’ $1,4 million a year… and he is one of the highest paid pro players currently in the men’s game.
Who’s the World’s Tallest Pro Volleyball Player?
Russian pro, Dmitriy Muserskiy is the tallest volleyball player in the world. At 7ft 2 inches he is probably one of the tallest sportsmen on the planet.
His height has obviously paid dividends, as the middle blocker for Japanese club Suntory Sunbirds won Gold at the 2012 London Olympics!
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