IMAGE|| (L-R – Chris McHugh, Mariafe Artacho del Solar, Taliqua Clancy & Damien Schumann)
Australia has named Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar, and Chris McHugh and Damien Schumann to be the first women’s and men’s beach volleyball teams in the history of the sport to compete at the Commonwealth Games.
Clancy, who was the first indigenous Beach Volleyball Olympian when competing at Rio 2016, joins forces with Peruvian born Artacho del Solar (also on Olympian).
The pair only formed as a team in October 2017 and have been undefeated since on both the Asian tour and the FIVB World Tour.
For Queensland born Clancy being selected to represent Australia on the Gold Coast has extra special significance.
“It’s a huge honour to put on the green and gold for Australia and is extremely rare to be able to do so on home soil.
“Being a Queenslander I’m going to feel right at home on the Gold Coast.
“I’ll be super proud to have Mariafe by my side when we head into the games to share this piece of history together as the first women’s beach volleyball team in the Commonwealth Games,” said Clancy.
Artacho del Solar was just 11 years of age when she moved to Australia from Peru with her mother for a better life and said being selected to represent her adopted country is something to savour.
“It is very exciting, I’m really looking forward to being part of history for beach volleyball.
“It’s a huge honour to represent Australia in front of family and friends it’s something we don’t often get to do it is something very special,” Artacho del Solar said.
The men’s team of Chris McHugh and Damien Schumann are also a relatively new pairing having formed following the Rio Olympics following injuries and other circumstances to their respective partners at the time.
The pair were long-time rivals but now are ready to join forces and do their country proud.
“It’s just a huge honour to be selected to represent Australia for the first time in Beach Volleyball at a Commonwealth Games. I know Damien and I are going to be super pumped to give our all.
“It’s going to be a fantastic atmosphere on the Gold Coast we can’t wait,” said McHugh.
Damien Schumann could hardly contain his excitement at the news.
“It’s such a massive honour, it’s brought a big smile to my face. I can’t stop smiling since I got the news. It’s just such a thrill and a great reward for a lot of hard work over a lot of years.”
“For me this will be a career highlight and the biggest thing I’ve been involved with,” said Schumann.
“It will be a massive electric atmosphere when we first stop out there and I think we will just have two take a couple of deep breaths, soak it in and then get down to business,” said Schumann.
Chef de Mission Steve Moneghetti congratulated the four athletes on their achievement and welcomed Beach Volleyball to the Commonwealth Games.
“We have seen the success of Beach Volleyball at the Olympics and I believe we will see the same fun atmosphere and competition at this Commonwealth Games and at every Games.
“Both the men’s and women’s team get to showcase their skills a lot to overseas audiences, so to get to be able to do it on the Gold Coast in front of a home crowd will be fantastic.
“A huge congratulations to Taliqua, Mariafe, Chris and Damien on getting to represent Australia on home soil,” Moneghetti said.
The match schedule has been sanctioned by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) and reveals the draw for the 36 match preliminary stage of the men’s and women’s competition from April 6-9 before the quarter final stage commences on April 10.
Each nation will play three matches during the preliminary stage of the competition, with the two highest ranked teams from each pool and the two best third-ranked teams from all pools advancing to the quarter final phase.