Beach Volleyball women join men in Thailand ahead of final chance at Olympic qualification
With just 29 days to go until the Tokyo Olympics, four of Australia’s top beach volleyball teams will be vying for last minute qualification at this weekend’s FIVB Beach Volleyball AVC Continental Cup in Thailand.
Australian men’s teams of Damien Schumann/Chris McHugh and Zac Schubert/Max Guehrer delivered two wins in the semi finals, keeping their Olympic dreams alive by making it through to the final qualification round.
2018 Commonwealth Games gold medalist Chris McHugh said that last week’s wins provided a relief, but it’s now back to business this weekend.
“We are really looking forward to continuing our journey to the Tokyo Olympics this weekend in Thailand,” McHugh said.
“We have been working very hard all through the COVID break with the other Australia teams to give ourselves the best opportunity this week to qualify an Australian men’s team to the Olympic Games,” he said.
Fellow Australian team mate Zac Schubert echoed McHugh’s comments, adding that they will be taking everything in their stride.
“We are all looking forward to competing for and representing Australia this week,” Schubert said.
“Everyone is doing everything they can to prepare themselves both physically and mentally.
“This is an amazing opportunity that we have in front of us and we all cant wait to get out there,” he said.
Having automatically qualified through to the finals leg of the tournament, women’s pairings Nikki Laird/Becchara Palmer and Phoebe Bell/Jessyka Ngauamo joined the men’s teams in Thailand this week, as they too aim to secure the last qualification spots on offer for the Tokyo Olympics.
Having competed at the last Olympic Games in Rio, Nikki Laird knows what it takes to get to the international stage and feels her and partner Becchara Palmer (London 2012 Olympian) have done everything they can to prepare for the challenge of the Continental Cup finals.
“We have approached our preparation for this tournament with a strong focus on our individual and team performance,” Laird said.
“We know that our best will beat any team we match up against and we have been working to ensure we can reproduce that level consistently and in high pressure moments,” she said.
Palmer/Laird will be joined by Queensland young guns Phoebe Bell and Jessyka Ngauamo who will join forces as the fourth team to fly the Australian flag in Thailand.
For Bell, the focus now lies on what’s ahead, knowing that her and partner Ngauamo have put in the hard work up to this point.
“Our preparation for this tournament was done in a way to ensure that we are able to produce our best performance in any situation,” Bell said.
“We have trust in our team process, and the work we have done as individuals to get us to a place we feel confident leading into this tournament.
“We recognise our privilege to be overseas representing our country and look forward to leaving it all out on the court,” she said.
Yesterday, fellow Australians Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar were announced on the Australian Olympic Team, after automatically qualifying through their FIVB ranking – click for more.
Spots for two more nations (one men’s team and one women’s team) will be on offer this weekend.
HOW TO FOLLOW
Match schedule and results – click here
MEN: 1PM AEST – Australia (McHugh/Schumann and Schubert/Guehrer) v Oman
WOMEN: 4PM AEST – Australia (Palmer/Laird and Ngauamo/Bell) v New Zealand