National Teams
Carracher and Nicolaidis complete Australian Olympic Beach Volleyball squad for Paris

Carracher and Nicolaidis complete Australian Olympic Beach Volleyball squad for Paris

Izac Carracher and Mark Nicolaidis have been selected to the Australian Olympic Team for Paris, marking the first time Australia will have two men’s beach volleyball teams at an Olympics since Athens 2004.

The pair will make their Olympic debut competing under the Eiffel Tower, after being down match points in both of their final matches against Chinese opponents to win the Asian Continental Cup finals in China.

Twenty-four-year-old Carracher and 23-year-old Nicolaidis will join Olympic silver medallists Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar and men’s debutants Zachery Schubert and Thomas Hodges to complete the Australian Beach Volleyball team for Paris.

Carracher and Nicolaidis are Australia’s second youngest male beach volleyball team to ever contest an Olympics, behind only the duo of Julien Prosser and Lee Zahner at Atlanta 1996.

Australian Olympic Team Deputy Chef de Mission Bronwen Knox announced the team in Brisbane, where the pair are putting the finishing touches on their Australian preparation before heading to Europe.

“I’m thrilled to announce Izac and Mark as part of the Australian Olympic Team for Paris,” she said.

“When we announced the first four beach volleyball athletes last month, Izac and Mark had a massive challenge ahead of them, needing to win the last chance Asian Continental Cup finals to earn the final quota. The pair showed incredible drive and belief, coming from behind in both the semi and the final, including saving match points in the semi-final, to keep their Olympic dream alive.

“This marks the first Games since Athens 2004 where Australia has had two men’s beach volleyball teams, which is a great sign for Volleyball Australia’s performance program. Congratulations Mark, Izac and everyone who has helped you reach this Olympic milestone.”

Queenslander Nicolaidis competed at the 2018 Youth Olympics, and is still coming to terms with achieving the Paris 2024 selection.

“To be honest it’s still sinking in, it doesn’t feel too real yet,” he said. “We sat in an office at the start of the year and put all the cards on the table and said ‘we’re going to throw absolutely everything at Continental Cup’.

“Every decision we made was for that tournament. Izac and I had countless sleepless nights in the lead-up thinking of all the scenarios – both the good, but also the depressing lows that could have happened. We went in prepared, knowing exactly what we could face so we were ready to go with whatever was thrown our way.

“We don’t just want to go and participate in the Olympics – we want to go and go as deep as we can in the tournament. The first job’s done of getting there, and now we put all our preparation in to go as deep in that tournament as possible.

“We thrive on playing the best teams in the world and that’s what this opportunity presents. We head to Vienna Elite16 beforehand which will see most of the Olympic teams having their last battles before the Games so that will be a nice little prelude before we head into the Olympic Village.”

Growing up learning his volleyball on Sydney’s Manly beach, Carracher said the Australian domestic tour put them in a position for international success.

“The level of the men’s draw from team one to team 30, it’s just a really tight bunch of teams. We pride ourselves on having a really good record against top 10 teams in the world, we’re just ecstatic to have the opportunity and have the mentality to go out and try and throw people off their pedestal,” he said.

“We said in 2023 that our biggest regret was not playing more of the domestic tour. We were forced out by injury a bit then we made the decision to prioritise international events. The shock of competition at any level is just different; you can’t emulate it at training as much as you try to. You can’t emulate being down 19-16 in a deciding set; you can’t emulate playing at 20-all and backing your processes in.

“That mental structure and learning how to win, and then being able to repeat those winning processes is so important to all elite sport and I think going back and starting this year by playing as many games as we could, wherever we could – that was us on the domestic tour.

“We did a bit of a ‘Houdini’ and escaped that first match [at the Asian Continental Cup final], but there was also the weight of playing one match for the Olympic Games and both teams knew that. That’s probably why it’s so shocking and it’s taken a while to set in because we knew that our backs were against the wall.”

Volleyball Australia CEO Andrew Dee praised the pair for their achievement.

“The fact it has taken 20 years to get two Australian men’s beach volleyball teams back at the Olympic Games shows just how incredibly tough it is to qualify,” he said.

“Mark and Izac started this journey together almost two and a half years ago, and for at least the last year they were planning towards the Asian Continental Cup to secure their place in Paris, and that plan has come off in the best way possible.

“In those final matches to earn qualification, Mark and Izac were a point away from being eliminated three times, and each time they came back to win. That kind of fight is typically Australian and it’s the kind of performance we can expect from them in Paris.”

Nicolaidis and Carracher will now head to Europe to complete their Olympic preparations, starting with the Beach Pro Tour Elite16 event in Vienna next weekend.

The beach volleyball competition at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games will be held from Saturday 27 July to Saturday 10 August at the Eiffel Tower Stadium in Paris.

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