1. Who, what when?
There will be 10 men’s teams and eight women’s teams competing for gold from 30 August – 8 September.
The Sitting Volleyball competition will take place at the ExCeL, the largest competition venue at the London 2012 Games. The venue is made up of five arenas, and following the Games it will revert to its role as one of Europe’s largest and most versatile exhibition spaces.
In Sitting Volleyball, there are two classifications: disabled and minimally disabled. Only one minimally disabled player can be on the court for each team at a time.
Sitting Volleyball first began in the Netherlands in the 1950’s as a combination of volleyball and a German game called sitzbal. It significantly increased in popularity during the 1960’s and today is played in more than 50 countries.
5. Paralympic debut
Sitting Volleyball made its Paralympic debut at the Arnhem 1980 Games, and at London 2012 there will be 198 athletes competing in the sport.
Sitting Volleyball is played by two teams of six and the rules are similar to the sport’s Olympic counterpart. However, a part of an athlete’s body between the buttocks and shoulder must be in contact with the court whenever a shot, or attempt at a shot, is made. Each team is allowed three touches of the ball before it crosses over the net.
All matches are played to the best of five sets, with the first four sets going to 25 points. The fifth set goes to 15 points, and all sets must be won by at least two points.
8. Field of play
The Sitting Volleyball court is 10m long and 6m wide. It is divided into two halves by a net that is 1.15m high for the men’s game and 1.05m high for the women’s.
9. Competition format
At London 2012, teams will be divided into pools for preliminary play. The top eight men’s teams and top four women’s teams will qualify for the knockout phase.
10. Beijing 2008
At the Beijing 2008 Games, Iran won gold in the men’s competition, Bosnia and Herzegovina took silver and Russia claimed bronze. On the women’s side, China snatched gold, as USA grabbed silver and the Netherlands got bronze.
11. Ones to Watch at London 2012
Iran men: As the defending Paralympic and world champions, Iran will be the one to beat. The Iranians have dominated the Sitting Volleyball competition, winning gold at the last five of six Paralympic Games, and they hope to extend that number in London.
Bosnia and Herzegovina men: This team has had to settle for silver behind Iran at both the last World Championships and Paralympics, so expect them to come out hungry to top the podium. The rivalry between them and Iran is one of the most exciting in Paralympic Sport, and the only time Bosnia has won Paralympic gold thus far was at the Athens 2004 Games.
USA women: After finishing second to China at both the last Paralympics and World Championships, USA is poised for gold in London. Led by Katie Holloway, Kari Miller and Kendra Lancaster, the country will have a veteran team at the Games.
12. Governing body
Sitting Volleyball is governed by the World Organization Volleyball for the Disabled (WOVD), which produces all of the rules and regulations for the sport.