Sport Week: Sitting volleyball storylines

Five potential storylines to follow in the sport heading into the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. 15 Apr 2016
Man hits a volleyball in the air

Ramzan Salehi Hajikolaei of Iran competes in the men's sitting volleyball match between Iran and Bosnia & Herzegovina at the China Agricultural University Gymnasium during day nine of the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China.

ⒸGetty Images

Editor’s note: Each sport on the Rio 2016 Paralympic programme will have a dedicated week of featured content published on Every week a new sport will be featured and the series will run until September’s Games, helping the public understand more about the 22 sports being contested in Rio.

The field is set for the sitting volleyball competition at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. The qualified men’s teams are: Russia, China, Egypt, USA, Brazil, Iran, Germany and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The women’s teams heading to Rio are: Russia, Ukraine, Rwanda, China, Iran, Brazil, USA, Canada.

With that, here are five storylines to follow heading into Rio 2016:

1. Chinese dynasty

The Chinese women’s team have won every Paralympics since women’s competitions were included in the sitting volleyball programme in Athens 2004. At the Games in London 2012, China defeated the USA 3-1 for their third gold medal. At those Games, about five of the players were on the Beijing 2008 winning team. But rosters, game styles, teams develop and times change. Will the Chinese women be able to carry over their winning ways from the past three Paralympics into Rio?

2. USA’s time to shine

China’s biggest rival is expected to be the USA. They have been on the podium – along with the Netherlands – in every Games but never at the top. However in the 2016 World ParaVolley Intercontinental Championships held in March in Anji, Huzhou, China, the US women showed signs of potential glory in Rio after beating China 3-1 in the finals of the qualified teams. This was the USA’s first time beating China in a major World ParaVolley event. Not only did the USA fall second to China in the Paralympic Games, but also in the 2010 and 2014 World Championships. Rio 2016 may be the turning point of that trend.

3. Iran’s return to golden glory

Iran had dominated the men’s competition, winning gold in five of the last seven Paralympic Games. But since the Sydney 2000 Paralympics, they have been challenged by Bosnia and Herzegovina, who are the reigning Paralympic and European champions. Bosnia and Herzegovina proved that the sport has been developing strongly since the country’s first sitting volleyball Paralympic title in Athens 2004, when they beat Iran in a tight 3-2 match.

4. African sends first women’s team

The Rwanda women’s sitting volleyball team made history by winning the African Championships in 2015 and thus being the first women’s sitting volleyball team from the region to compete at the Paralympics. They did so in dramatic fashion, coming back against Egypt to win the finals after five sets. What will Rwanda show in their debut?

5. Brazilian men

The host nation are expected to battle for a spot on the podium. At March’s World ParaVolley Intercontinental Championships, Brazil showed fight against powerhouse Iran in the qualified teams gold medal match. Despite a close first set – 25-23 – Iran also won the next two by more than 10 points. But there was confidence built for Brazil, showing they can contend with the top nations, and home support in Rio would certainly be an advantage to help them go far.

Helpful links

World ParaVolley.

Rio 2016 sitting volleyball webpage.

IPC sitting volleyball webpage.

For sitting volleyball development resources, visit


Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs).

The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.

Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.