By David McPherson
Australia’s Chris McHugh and Damien Schumann became the Commonwealth’s first ever beach volleyball champions when they took on the might of Canada on the Coolangatta sands.
The gold medal was followed soon after with a silver from Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar, as Australia completed a successful first Commonwealth Games campaign.
The gold medal pairing of McHugh and Schumann lost only one set for the entire tournament as they blasted past all who came before them.
Fiji, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago could keep our men’s duo on court for just 102 minutes in the group stages, as Australia made quick work of their lesser-ranked opponents.
England’s Gregory and Sheaf were dealt with in two sets in the semifinal, 21-13, 21-16, as our Aussie boys earned qualification to the gold medal game and met their first challenge.
The Canadians Pedlow and Schachter pushed the Australian pair all the way, taking the first set off the duo and forcing a third and deciding set.
The crucial points fell in favour of the Aussies as McHugh and Schumann triumphed 18-16 in a tense final encounter.
It took the Aussies to a realm only a select few sportsmen have experienced.
It’s hard to describe those sorts of pressure-filled moments,” Schumann said.
“You can just feel you heart pumping and the adrenaline coursing. You’re not sore, you’re not fatigued, you’re not tired. Your eyes go a little bit wider and you’re just ready for anything.”
Artacho del Solar and Clancy were unlucky not to take their gold medal game further, falling by just two points to Canada in both sets.
The Aussie pairing had lost just one set coming into the match, which came in the semifinal to the Ni-Vanuatu pair who would go on to win bronze.
The Kingaroy kid Clancy was dominant at the net all tournament long while Artacho del Solar was a dynamo in defence.
The girls lost just 54 points in all of the group stage, but couldn’t bust past the world number one Canadian duo of Humana-Paredes and Pavan to clinch a golden double for Australia.
Clancy was upbeat about the future of her partnership with Artacho del Solar.
“”They’re a great team, we’re a young team. If this is what we can do in such a short time, it’s exciting what we will achieve in the future,” she said.