OLYMPIC GAMES

How many Olympic medals has the USA volleyball team won?

Volleyball, for both men and women, has featured in every edition of the Olympics since it was first introduced at the Tokyo Games in 1964.

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How many Olympic medals has the USA volleyball team won?
VALENTYN OGIRENKO REUTERS

The Tokyo Games in October 1964 was a landmark for volleyball at the Olympics - it was in the Japanese capital that the sport made its Olympic debut with events programmed for both men and women. A total of 10 teams took part in the men’s event and six in the women’s event - including the USSR, who had not lost a single game in the previous 12 years. So it was a massive shock when Japan’s women’s team beat them 15-11, 15-8, 15-13 to win gold - a moment that was watched and celebrated by the entire nation, reportedly 94.5% of all households with a television set had tuned in to watch.

The USSR won the inaugural men’s volleyball event beating Czechoslovakia in the final and hosts, Japan claiming bronze. It was such a success that it was clear that Olympic volleyball was here to stay.

USSR and Japan dominate early editions 

The Soviet Union and Japan dominated the basketball event in both categories during the next three editions of the Olympics until China broke the trend by winning gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Japan’s women’s basketball team picked up the bronze that year and again in London 2012, their only appearances on the podium since winning the event for the last time in 1976.

The Soviet Union returned to reclaim the title on home turf in the Moscow Games of 1980 but other nations were emerging to take their crown. Cuba won three straight gold medals between 1992 and 2000 and China, who triumphed in Los Angeles 84 and claimed the bronze in Seoul, became the third nation to win three Olympic golds in the event with victories in 1984, 2004 and 2016. The gold medal has continued to resist the USA women’s team, whose best performances were at Los Angeles 84, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 when they went home with the silver medal; they came third in Barcelona in 1992 and again in 2016 in Rio.

As for the men’s volleyball event, the Soviet Union’s stranglehold ended following the Moscow Games in 1980 which the USA had boycotted. The United States won back-to-back golds in ‘84 and ‘88 but other challengers were already appearing. Brazil, who took silver in Los Angeles, were crowned Olympic champions in Barcelona 92 and followed that up with gold medal triumphs in Athens and Rio. The Netherlands, Yugoslavia and Russia complete the list of medalists in the men’s event.

All-time Olympic medalists in the Volleyball event

Men’s

Brazil: 3 gold 3 silver

USA: 3 gold 2 bronze

USSR: 3 gold 2 silver 1 bronze

Women

USSR: 4 gold 2 silver

China: 3 gold 1 silver 2 bronze

Cuba: 3 gold 1 bronze

Japan: 2 gold 2 silver 2 bronze

USA: 3 silver 2 bronze