Commonwealth Games silver medallists, Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar are targeting the world top spot after capping off a stellar World Tour season, adding two awards to their four FIVB World Tour gold medals.
Clancy was honoured with “Best Server,” while Artacho del Solar took out the “Most Improved Player,” award – the first awards received by an Australian women’s player on the tour since Louise Bawden won the “Top Rookie” award in 2009.
Of her award win, Artacho del Solar said,
“It was such an honour to be named most improved player of the tour, and I’m so proud of Taliqua for winning best server!”
The successful duo have put Australia on the map, throwing beach volleyball into the limelight as arguably one of the most successful Aussie teams this year.
“It’s definitely very exciting to see where we can continue to take our game. We want to keep growing and developing as a team, so we can take Australia to the top of the world!” the elated Artacho del Solar said.
“It’s always an honour for me to wear the green and gold and it’s awesome to get recognition for our sport in our country. I really hope that beach volleyball can keep growing and become a top sport in Australia.”
It may come as a surprise to some, but the 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medallists have only just played their first full season together, quickly finding themselves a winning combination.
“Taliqua and I played a Junior World Championships event back in 2012 where we won bronze, but it wasn’t until October last year that we re-joined forces,” the 24-year-old said.
“From the beginning, we had a natural connection. The trust and belief we have in each other is so strong, which makes it much easier to just focus on playing. We’re both on the same page, competitive and always want to win.”
Along with their four FIVB World Tour gold medals, the team was able to finish their first season together with a 77% win ratio and the most titles ever won by any Australian beach volleyball team (4 World Tour and 2 Asian Tour titles).
As for what’s next for this impressive team, Artacho del Solar says their focus is on qualifying for Tokyo 2020.
“We are heading to Hawaii for a training camp in preparation for the Asian Championships later this month, before we compete in a World Tour event in China next month,” she said.
“The Olympic qualification process started on the first of September, so every event counts towards getting us to Tokyo 2020! It’s a very exciting time!”
Liana Buratti – Aus Olympic Team