Tokyo, Japan, June 4, 2016 – Iran have been waiting to qualify for the Olympic Games for 52 years. That wait is now over. The Iran men’s team will be going to Rio for this year’s Olympic Games after qualifying in Tokyo on Saturday.
The foundation of the current team was created nearly 10 years ago. After a year and a half following the arrival of a new Iran Volleyball Federation president, it became obvious that Iran needed an overhaul with a new generation of players, a well-designed agenda and clear targets in order to establish a better future.
Olympic Qualification Process
Iran started working on their goals: becoming the gold medallists of the Asian Championship and the Asian Games, and qualifying for the FIVB World League and Olympic Games.
At that time, Iran was 26th in the FIVB Rankings, behind other Asian teams. But they grew year by year and tournament by tournament.
Iran finally became the champions of Asia for the first time in 2011 and were looking forward to qualifying for the London Olympic Games in 2012. But it transpired that the young Iranians were still a little too inexperienced to reach this great competition. As some form of compensation, they succeeded in qualifying for the World League and entered the competition for the first time in 2013.
Iran's results at the Men's World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Japan
Being elevated to the top level of the World League gave Iran solid international experience. In 2014, Iran placed fourth in the World League and sixth in the FIVB World Championship. They also took gold at the Asian Games.
Now, Iran were familiar with how to compete in world-level competitions. After further success in the World League and the FIVB World Cup, they achieved another of their goals by becoming one of the top eight teams in the world.
One big dream was left: qualification for the Olympic Games.
Iran celebrating during the World Olympic Qualification tournament
Two months of intense training and a series of friendly matches in France and Japan (against Poland and China) brought Iran to Tokyo in good condition. They showed their great determination and achieved their Olympic goal.
But this dream doesn’t end here. Iran is no longer content just to qualify. Now, the sky’s the limit as Iran continues in their efforts to move up in the volleyball world.