China's Zhu Ting was an FIVB Volleyball Women's U20 World Championship winner in 2013
Lausanne, Switzerland, September 8, 2015 - Zhu Ting, who recently led China to victory at the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Cup Japan 2015, is proof of where participation in the FIVB Volleyball Women’s U20 World Championship can lead. In the Czech Republic in 2013, she steered the Chinese team to the title and received the MVP award.
“I am very happy. I would like to thank my teammates for their strong will and hard work. The prize for the Most Valuable Player is not for me, it is for the whole team,” she said at the time.
One year later, she was a valuable member of the team which won a much-heralded silver medal at the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship in Italy. Zhu and her Chinese teammates have now also won the FIVB Women's World Cup Japan 2015 and qualified for the women's volleyball tournament at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
For many young players, the FIVB Volleyball Women’s U20 World Championship has provided the springboard to a big career in the sport. In 2011, for example, Belgium’s Lise van Hecke was the tournament’s outstanding scorer. She now leads the Belgian team that finished third at the European Championship and will play her volleyball in Brazil’s professional league next season. Another player plying her trade in Brazil is Natalia Pereira, MVP at the U20 showdown in 2007. She was also crowned Olympic Champion with Brazil in 2012.
The forthcoming FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship in Puerto Rico from September 11-19 looks set to unearth more international stars.
The championship was first held in 1977 in Brazil. Fourteen teams participated in the tournament, which was dominated by the Asian countries. Korea won the first gold medal, finishing ahead of China and Japan. Four years later - in 1981 - Korea were back on the top step of the podium. However, these were to remain the Koreans’ only two titles in the history of the event, which is held every two years.
The most dominant nation in the history of the competition is Brazil, which has won six of the 17 tournaments and made twelve appearances on the podium. This year’s defending champions China have just one medal fewer to their name. However, only two of the Chinese medals were gold. The other countries to have won the Women’s U20 World Championship are Russia/Soviet Union (3), Cuba (2), Italy and Germany (both 1).
Japan have won seven medals, but never gold. Other medallists include the Dominican Republic, Peru, Serbia, Ukraine and Poland. In total, 51 countries have appeared at the event, including Mauritius, Paraguay, Nigeria and New Zealand. Only Brazil and China have played in every tournament and will be making their 18th appearance at this year's event. It is no coincidence that the senior women’s teams from these two countries have enjoyed such great success: Brazil are Olympic champions, while China finished runners-up at the World Championship in 2014 and have won the Women's World Cup in 2015.
After the Chinese won gold two years ago, their coach Jiande Xu said: “There is no secret to China’s success in this age category. It is just hard work.”
The hosts of the FIVB Volleyball Women’s U20 World Championship have always worked hard to put on a great event. Thailand have staged the World Championship for this age group on three occasions. The showdown has taken place twice in Brazil, Mexico, the Czech Republic and Peru, while Italy, Korea, Poland, Canada, the Dominican Republic and Turkey have each hosted it once. For Puerto Rico, who stepped in for Cyprus, the U20 World Championship represents a new chapter, and an opportunity to play hosts to the stars of tomorrow.