McHugh and Burnett win Cobram ABVT Gold

McHugh and Burnett win Cobram ABVT Gold

Tokyo Olympian and Commonwealth Games gold medalist Chris McHugh and new partner Paul Burnett have won the first 2022 Australian Beach Volleyball Tour (ABVT) event, winning gold in straight sets at the Cobram Barooga Classic.

McHugh recently teamed up with Burnett after his Tokyo Olympic partner Damien Schumann retired, however it’s been an instant connection, with the pair winning their first ever tournament together – the 2021 Asian Senior Beach Volleyball Championships in November last year.

While McHugh has a few ABVT titles under his belt, today’s victory was Burnett’s first time on the top step of the podium.

The pair faced up-and-coming team Izac Carracher and Mark Nicolaidis who had an exceptional tournament, winning every match in straight sets on their way to the gold-medal match. However the experience of McHugh / Burnett proved too strong in the final, with the top ranked team winning 2-0 (21-14, 21-9).

McHugh and Burnett said they were really happy to take the win on Thompsons Beach, but also thanked their competitors for a great tournament.

“The gold feels a lot better than coming second or third,” Burnett laughed after the match. 

“I’m really happy with the result, it was a tough weekend, we had a lot of close games so to finish on a high note with a strong performance is a great way to end the weekend.”

“It’s always a great event in Cobram, it’s my favourite event to come to,” McHugh said,

“I’m just super happy for Paul, it’s his first National Tour event win and I’m sure the first of many.

“Mark and Izac really brought their A-game today, they’ve had a phenomenal weekend, and I have no doubt we’ll see them in a lot more Sunday finals at the events to come.”

Today’s victory is a confidence boost for the pair who will now turn their attention to the Mollymook ABVT in two weeks

“We take confidence every time we step on the court,” McHugh said.

“We’re still a relatively new team so we’re still working out some things in our own game. Paul has played some really good defence this weekend and it’s an element of our game we can continue to improve.

“Going into Mollymook, we’re the hunted and everyone is trying to give us a beat down so we’ve gotta keep on our A-Game.”

In the earlier bronze-medal match it was the team of Sam Halley and Matt Reeves who got the win over Tom Hodges and Max Guehrer in an epic three-set battle (21-19, 15-21, 15-10).

In the earlier bronze-medal match it was the team of Sam Halley and Matt Reeves who got the win over Tom Hodges and Max Guehrer in an epic three-set battle.

The duo have only played together once before, at the Coolangatta ABVT in March 2021, but put the Volleyball community on notice as a pair to be reckoned with.

“It’s just so much fun, you play these games for the privilege of feeling the pressure and to be in the moment,” Halley said after the close match.

“The pressure is not something to pull away from, it’s something to lean into – to just enjoy the fact that you’re playing a really tight game against good guys, it’s just awesome.”

Reeves said the medal finish was a pleasant surprise.

“I’m still learning in this game, this is only my third season on the national tour and I was not expecting third place – I had booked flights for early this afternoon which I’ll now have to change,” Reeves laughed.

See all results HERE.

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