The Gold Coast 2018 silver medallists have their sights on the top step of the podium in Birmingham and are ready to be #BoldInGold.
Sitting down at the beginning of the year, gold at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games was a goal Aussie beach volleyballers Mariafe Aratcho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy wanted to tick off the list.
Coming together only six months ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games – where beach volleyball made its debut and the pair won silver – their partnership has continued to grow in leaps and bounds.
From an Olympic silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to a World Championship bronze medal in 2019 plus a handful of podium finishes on the FIVB World Tour, the duo only have eyes for gold at Birmingham 2022.
Clancy, who was the first Indigenous player to represent Australia in beach volleyball, believes 2018 was just the beginning of the magic Mariafe and herself can produce on the court.
“It was nice for us on the Gold Coast to get a little taste of what we were able to achieve as a team, and to be able to do it with our family around us,” she said. “From then, we’ve just kept getting stronger and stronger, and we’ve achieved so much.
“We have this special magic on court, and for all the years we’ve been playing together now we definitely know that it is our time to turn it into gold,” Clancy added.
The pair have known each other since they were juniors, and regularly saw each other around training with both women being part of the national programme.
While their pathways changed when it came to the Olympic cycle in 2016, Clancy and Aratcho del Solar were all but destined to come together.
Going on to win the most titles ever by an Australian men’s or women’s beach volleyball team in their first season together on the FIVB World Tour, gracing the podium six times. By July 2019, the duo reached the world number two spot.
Having known each other for as long as they have, has helped them become the team they are today according to Artacho del Solar.
“What makes us such a good team is that trust we have in each other, in ourselves and in the team – that’s what makes us a successful team,” she said.
“We are technically still a young team, which makes it exciting to see how far we can continue to take it. I’m definitely excited to see what we can achieve.”
Being able to pull on the green and gold for their second Commonwealth Games is an exciting moment for both athletes.
“There’s no better feeling than being in the green and gold, and there’s always that moment when you step out onto court of soaking it all in…it’s really special and you really can’t put it into words,” said Clancy.
“At the Commonwealth Games you’re not just representing yourself, your team, your family – you’re representing your whole country. It’s such an honour to put on the green and gold and it’s definitely a very special feeling,” Aratcho del Solar added.
“We’re definitely going for gold, but we’re going to take it each game at a time, and focus on the process which is what we’re all about.”
Beach volleyball at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games gets underway on 31 July with Clancy and Mariafe to face Sri Lanka in their first Pool B match.