The Volleyball Grand Prix is a women's volleyball competition. Played on a yearly basis since 1993, the event is regarded as the women's edition of the World League. Over US $1 million were distributed in prizes at the 2004 Volleyball Grand Prix.
Volleyball Grand Prix History and Winners
The Volleyball Grand Prix was launched in 1993 as an element of the marketing strategy of FIVB to encourage the game of volleyball by setting up a yearly intercontinental competition. It was modeled subsequent to the World League, a well-doing competition for male players that had been commenced three years earlier.
The Volleyball Grand Prix promoted women's volleyball and made it especially popular in East Asia; the shortage of interest on the part of the viewers is nonetheless still considerable all through the world. In 2004, the Volleyball Grand Prix is maintained largely with the Asian investors' support.
The prize money pot has been increasing gradually since 1993, but at quite a slow pace. The budget has reached US $1.295 million in 2004 - too little when compared to the US $13 million of World League.
The prevalence of Asian sponsors resulted in the first significant break with the formula of the World League. The largest part of the cities that stage matches of preliminary rounds is situated in Asia. A host nation might or might not have a national volleyball lineup participating in the event. A second major break was introduced relatively recently: in several continents, squads must go through qualification rounds to take part in the competition.
The record of previous Volleyball Grand Prix winners is an apparent sign of how women's volleyball event has been prevailed since the early 90s, by four national teams: China, Cuba, Brazil, and Russia. Together with the United States, a two-time winner, they are the only teams to win a champion title at this tournament as of 2005.
In 1993, the Cuban athletes extended their already remarkable record of a gold Olympic medal in 1992 by coming first at the inaugural edition of the Volleyball Grand Prix. They were as well runners-up for the gold medals in 1994, but were beaten by an infamous Brazilian lineup: by that time, the Brazilian team had never been able to win a single medal in any of the major volleyball competitions for women.
In the subsequent years, Brazilian players proved clear of any doubt that their time as underdogs was over. Brazil lost the final game in 1995 to the United States, but returned in 1996 to catch a second Volleyball Grand Prix title, taking the upper hand in all the matches that formed the Final Four round.
The Brazilians didn't take part in the 1997 competition, and the victorious team was Russia. However, Brazil was back in 1998 and caught another gold. Russia got even in 1999, and overcame Brazilian lineup in straight sets to catch their second Volleyball Grand Prix title.
Russia's success in 2002 made them, akin to Brazil, three-time victors. But the South American teams untied the score by coming first at the 2004 and 2005 competitions. The victors in 2000, 2001 and 2003 editions were Cuba, the United States and China, in that order.