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Latest update: 08/06/2009 18:18 +0300

Twenty Years On, Aiming for Gold Again

NICOSIA, 16 May 2009 - Twenty years on, Nicos Ioannou seeks to guide the Women's National Volleyball Team of Cyprus to the top, at the XIII Games of the Small States of Europe. It was in 1989, when the GSSE were last held in Cyprus, that under coach Ioannou Cyprus won the gold in Women's Volleyball with the first ever entry of a team in the event. That success was only the first of many that were to come in the next years.

Coach Ioannou has been at the helm of the Women's National Team for many years and knows like no other all its particularities.

"It's important for me to be leading the team again, twenty years later, with the GSSE hosted again in Cyprus," said Mr Ioannou. "Of course, a lot of things have changed since then. Just think, my hair was still black back then..."

The current team is already training for the XIII GSSE, but Mr Ioannou does not want to put on any extra pressure on his players and thus presents the goals of the team slightly differently: "We want to play and be proud of our team. We want our game to be the best we can--and if we achieve this, then the successes will follow. This is the philosophy of our team. And this line of thought helps us."

The next obligations of the National Team of Cyprus are in Liechtenstein, in the final qualification tournament of the European Championships. This is a first-class opportunity to test the team in view of the GSSE.

Up against Liechtenstein, San Marino and Luxembourg, all opponents that will also take part in the GSSE, the players of Cyprus will get the chance to measure themselves in the best possible way. The Liechtenstein tournament begins on Friday 22 May and ends on Sunday 34 May.

But the preparation is not without setbacks. Middle Blocker Stella Ioannou (no relation to the coach) withdrew from the team following an abdominal muscle injury. It's not a serious injury, but it will take up to two weeks for Ioannou to make a comeback, which means she will probably not be in time for the GSSE.

The team now includes 14 players, from which a final selection of 12 will be made for the delegation to Liechtenstein and for CYPRUS 2009.

KS/CD

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