Son knows best in Olympic volleyball match
By ANNE M. PETERSON,
Updated July 29, 2012
LONDON (AP) Father and son saved the hugs for afterward.
Argentina won its first match in the Olympic men's volleyball tournament Sunday, giving setter Nicolas Uriarte a victory over his father, Jon, who coaches the Volleyroos of Australia.
The father-son bond was subtle. During pre-match warmups, Nicolas Uriarte slightly raised his hand in the direction of Australia's bench following the customary handshake between the opposing players.
When it was over, Jon Uriarte put his arm around his son as they faced the post-match television cameras. Argentina took the match 25-21, 25-22, 25-20. But the father was beaming anyway.
"Volleyball for me in life was a way for me to express myself and be happy. And all of my children love volleyball just in the same way," Jon Uriarte said. "This, as a father, seeing them be happy, it's huge."
"I don't know what life could give me next," he said. "Already, it's enough."
Jon Uriarte, from Buenos Aires, played 11 years for Argentina's national team and won a bronze medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
It is his second stint as Australia's head coach. He joined the team in 2001, helping the Volleyroos qualify for the 2004 Athens Games. He was rehired by the team in 2011. In between, he spent some time as head coach for his native Argentina.
Nicolas, who was used sparingly during the match, is a promising 22-year-old setter, voted MVP of the 2009 FIVB Junior World Championship.
"For sure, I would have liked to play more," said the younger Uriarte. "But at the end, we won."
Argentina is ranked No. 8 in the world by volleyball's international governing body. Last year the team qualified for the World League finals and finished fourth.
The Volleyroos are ranked No. 22 in the world. The crowd at London's Earls Court was clearly behind the underdogs.
The pair aren't the only father-son combination in the Olympic tournament. Brazil's Bernardo Rezende, known as Bernardinho, coaches his son, setter Bruno Rezende.
But they are used to playing together: Both Rezendes were also at the Beijing Olympics, where Brazil won the silver medal.
Top-ranked Brazil opens the London Games with Tunisia in the final match of the day. The Brazilians play in the same pool with the United States, the defending gold medalists, perennial powerhouse Russia, Serbia, Germany and Tunisia.
Argentina and Australia play in a pool with Italy, Poland, Bulgaria and host Britain.
The men's competition will alternate days with the women's in London, with men's medal matches set for Aug. 12. The top four teams from each pool advance to the quarterfinals.
In the early matches on Sunday, Bulgaria swept Great Britain, 25-18, 25-20, 26-24. Russia also defeated Germany in straight sets, 31-29, 25-18, 25-17.