2012 London Summer Olympics

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Even before the United States and Brazil begin their quest for Olympic glory in volleyball, one of them is virtuallly assured of gold, though this time around the event has been robbed off some of its sheen as Cuba failed to qualify.

Winners of three gold -- 1992, 1996 and 2000 -- and a team which was a regular entity at the Games since 1972, will be sorely missed. But, with the declining standard of women's volleyball in Cuba -- they failed to win a medal in Beijing (2004) -- it was just a matter of time before they were shown the door by up-and-coming nations.

Brazil, the defending champions, can be assured of a dogged fight from the United States, silver-medallists at Beijing.

While, it will likely be a 'two-way tie' in women's volleyball, in beach volleyball, it could be a lopsided affair with the United States team aiming for a third consecutive Olympic gold, just behind 10 Downing Street.

Even at 35 and 34 years respectively, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh know they can ward off the Chinese challenge one last time and successfully carry the hopes of their country in the third consecutive Games.

Even as one talks about the likes of May-Treanor, Walsh and 17-year-old swimming sensation Missy Franklin -- aiming for seven gold -- there is one more lady who is making waves in London.

Michelle Obama, leading her country's delegation to the Olympics, hosted a sporting event at the US ambassador's house in London, which was attended by no less than a thousand US and British students. The experience of soaking in the Olympic Games atmosphere left her "awestruck" and she hoped the country would be at the top of the medals standings.

"Being here is otherworldly for me, you know. I am still so inspired by all of you. I am still in awe of everything you have achieved," the first lady was quoted as saying.



United States and Brazil Favorites to Battle for Olympic Volleyball Gold