It’s been a long wait for Beach Volleyball but the time is right and the time is now for this exciting sport to make its Commonwealth Games debut.
By Steve Hart
A magnificent purpose built stadium has been erected on the Coolangatta beachfront and tickets have been snapped up in quick time to ensure the event is a sellout.
As the host nation Australia has two teams automatically qualify, one men’s and one women’s, and both teams’ world rankings suggest they should be well in contention for medals.
The Australian men’s pairing of Chris McHugh and Damien Schumann have proved a lethal combination since forming after the Rio Olympics when their respective partners at the time suffered injuries and retirement.
Team McHugh/Schumann have shown they can mix it with the world’s best by winning an FIVB World Tour Gold medal in 2017 and have featured strongly in all the international events they’ve contested over the past 12 months.
The Aussie men won’t have it easy though with the No. 1 ranked team from Canada, Sam Schachter and Sam Pedlow making it clear they have one goal and that is to win the gold medal.
Traditional rivals England and New Zealand are also expected to be a chance at medals and you can never count out nations like Trinidad and Tobago who have the “unknown factor” and could just surprise and even upset the big guns.
The Australian women of Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar are the No. 1 ranked Commonwealth team and have been the pair to beat on the international tour since forming in October 2017.
Clancy will have plenty of home town support given that she grew up in the Queensland town of Kingaroy. Clancy is also a proud indigenous Australian and an Olympian, so the opportunity to compete in front of friends and family on home sand is something driving her to success.
Clancy’s partner Artacho del Solar has her own motivation being that she arrived in Australia from Peru as an 11 year old with her mum for a better life, so to compete for Australia at a home Commonwealth Games is a once in a life time opportunity.
Together, these two women are incredibly in sync on the court and are ready to do their country proud.
Like the men’s competition Canada and England will be Australia’s toughest road blocks but also keep an eye on the highly fancied team from Vanuatu who many believe could win their country’s first ever Commonwealth Games medal in any sport.
The Beach Volleyball begins on the Coolangatta beachfront Friday 6 April with pool matches daily before the finals being on 10 April and medal matches on 12 April.