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Cubas team finished the first leg of the NORCECA pre-Olympic competition with two victories and one defeat. Today they play against the Dominican Republic to move on to the semi-finals

The Cubans defeated Trinidad with a final score 3-0 (25-13, 25-8 and 25-15) ending the preliminary round with two victories and one defeat, and secured second place in their group behind Canada. That team won against Mexico 3-0 (25-21, 25-19 y 26-24) and became immediate contenders for medals. The United States team also has a shot at medals after having won over Puerto Rico with a similar score (25-21, 25-23 y 25-22) to lead Group A.

The Dominican Republic took third spot in the Group A after defeating Barbados 3-0 (25-19, 25-19 y 25-17); however, they "nor Mexico or Puerto Rico" are not thought to pose a serious threat to the Cuban team.
Venezuelas first Olympic double-ticket

President Hugo Chavez congratulated Venezuelas men and women volleyball teams after they achieved a historic first-time Olympic qualification by winning in the South Americans eliminations.

«Lets put our hands together for our men and women for that historic feat; theyre going to the Olympic games for the first time,» the Venezuelan president said at the beginning of a meeting with ministers at the government palace, reported the AFP news agency.

«Last night I lived moments I hadnt lived in a long time. I walked around, prayed, kneeled, screamed and made all the volleyball moves myself,» said the president in a commentary aired on the public television network.

Venezuela is now preparing to receive the two teams as heroes. Sports Minister Victoria Mata announced the great home coming being readied. «Were going to give them a beautiful welcome when they return to Venezuela. This deserves a celebration; we have started with the right foot. So far, 76 Venezuelans athletes have qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, although there are still some sporting competitions that have not been concluded. We have high hopes for those men and women,» she said.

The Venezuelan press also joined the celebrations. «Were going to Beijing,» read the headline of the Líder sports newspaper. «Historic Men and Womens Volleyball Qualifications,» «Volleyball Deeds for Beijing 2008» and «A Double Deed» were some of the headlines published in other Venezuelan papers.
European Pre-Olympics

In Izmir, Turkey, the second day of the European Mens Pre-Olympic Tournament unfolded, with another ticket for Beijing at stake.

In the Group A, Poland took second place by defeating Italy 3-0 (25-20, 26-24 y 25-21). Meanwhile, in the Group B, Serbia defeated Finland 3-0 (26-24, 25-23 y 25-18) and Germany swept Turkey 3-2 (25-20, 17-25, 21-25, 25-19 y 15-12).


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