Blengini led Italy to Tokyo 2020 qualification in August 2019
Rome, Italy, April 8, 2020 – Italy men’s coach Gianlorenzo Blengini has called on Italy’s young players to take advantage of the extra year that they will have to prepare for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
In 2019 Italy’s young players showed their potential by winning gold at the Tunisia 2019 FIVB Volleyball U19 World Championship (in photo), and silver at the Bahrain 2019 FIVB Volleyball U21 World Championship.
The Games have been postponed for 12 months following the outbreak of the coronavirus, and Blengini wants plans put in place so the next wave of Italian players has the best chance possible to arrive at Tokyo 2020 in the best shape possible.
Italy have been drawn in Pool A with hosts Japan, 2014 and 2018 world champions Poland, Canada, reigning Asian champions Iran, and Venezuela.
Pool B features defending Olympic champions Brazil, 2018 and 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League winners Russia, Rio de Janeiro 2016 bronze medallists USA, France, Argentina and Tunisia.
Italy’s men have a proud tradition of finishing on the Olympic podium and they won silver at Rio de Janeiro 2016 and bronze at London 2012. However, they have yet to win gold.
“The first thing you think about are the young players who were beginning their programme for the year, but now they have another year to give everything, so they are ready to contribute to the team,” he told Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“It is a chance for a few of the younger players because some of the older players will find it hard to go through another winter which means they will start the next season in a different place and the young players should be ready for this chance.
“It isn’t a time to for them to hide away and think about what could have been, they have to take this opportunity.”
Italy qualified for Tokyo 2020 by winning Pool C of the Tokyo Volleyball Qualification Tournament that they hosted in Bari.
In Tokyo matches will take place at the Ariake Arena, a 15,000-capacity waterside venue from 25 July to 9 August.
After playing each other once, four teams advance from the pool to the quarterfinals. From there it is direct elimination until the gold medal winners are determined.
For the moment Italy’s players are observing the country’s lockdown laws, while the SuperLega has been suspended.
“The vital thing is that the right programme is put in place,” Blengini said. “They have the summer to rest and then there will be the need to find their rhythm during the Italian championship, notably how to play at the highest level every week and how to deal with the mental pressure.
“Their programme should help them develop so they are better than they are now. We really need to stay focused on the programme that will take the team to the Olympics, so they are even more hungry to succeed than ever.”