ON YOUR MARKS – GET SET – GOLD !
Australia’s new breed of Beach Volleyballers have been issued a firm challenge from Sydney 2000 Gold Medallist Kerri Pottharst to step up and write the next chapter for the sport.
Pottharst says 17 years is long enough to wait for more success “Why wait another year, lets win as many medals as we can now, we can’t keep riding on the back of the success we had at a couple of Olympics way back as a sport.”
There is no better time than right now with the effort, support and opportunities that has been afforded to Australian Athletes particularly in recent years through the intense high performance program based in Adelaide.
Pottharst says she expects nothing less than double Gold Medals when Beach Volleyball makes its Commonwealth Games debut on the Gold Coast next year “We’ve done a lot to help these players get the experience they need and they need to expect that of themselves and take that sort of pressure and turn into something positive.
The last thing we want is negative pressure but they’ve got to have the pressure, they’ve got to know what it feels like, we can’t sugar coat it.”
Strong words from Pottharst but like many in the sport she has had enough of waiting for more success.
The new women’s pairing of Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar teased just last month that perhaps the wait is over!
The pair had instant success blowing away all comers in Asia winning everything on offer which included three straight Gold Medals. Undefeated in 16 matches, 32 straight sets with one of their gold medal victories a prestigious World Tour event in China.
Now the challenge is to continue that success against some of the world’s best on home soil this week for another FIVB World Tour event on Sydney’s Manly Beach.
“It’s going to be exciting, it’s going to push our Australian players, it’s going to test new partnerships in the women’s and it’s going to give our top men’s team a chance to win GOLD on home soil. It’s amazing I'm really pumped about it.” said Pottharst.
Damien Schumann and Chris McHugh are those top men’s paring and tournament event manager Baz Wedmaier added “ I’m backing them 100%, don’t get me wrong they won’t have it all their own way but with all due respect to the other players this is Damo and Chris’ Gold Medal to lose.”
Before the World Tour events gets underway on Wednesday the Australian Beach Volleyball tour kicks off this weekend and is also the first of three Commonwealth Games selection events.
In a minor blow the Clancy/Artacho pairing won’t be on show with Clancy suffering a toe injury but says she is very confident of taking her place in a few days time for the international event.
“It is frustrating, I really wanted to play this weekend but I’ll be right in a few days and this won’t set me back at all”
Clancy’s Rio Olympics partner Louise Bawden has also been struck down by injury and will miss this weekend but unlike Clancy is in major doubt to be fit for World Tour.
Pottharst says while it’s disappointing for Bawden and Clancy it creates opportunity for other players to catch the eye of national selectors “If I were one of the other players I would be busting my butt to get someone to take notice of me. Id be sticking my hand up to say pick me pick me pick me.”
Volleyfest is underway and goes through to Sunday November 26 with the Women’s World Tour Finals. Saturday November 25 will feature the men’s finals and world class entertainment featuring Anja Nissen (Winner of the Voice) and Cyrus (winner of X Factor) as well as huge fireworks show.
If that wasn’t enough this Tuesday November 21 at 10am there will be a celebrity challenge featuring NRL Legends, Rock Stars and well known media personalities which will be free to the public.