Australia has put itself into a great position for a chance to win double gold medals at the beach volleyball with both men and women teams winning their semi finals.
Chris McHugh and Damien Schumann were first through in the afternoon and took their game to yet another level against the old enemy England in what was being dubbed “Ashes on the beach”.
It was clear from the outset that England were the strongest team the Aussies had faced in the tournament so far but McHugh/Schumann were equally up to the challenge.
The net was the battle ground and McHugh got the better of his giant 208cm opposite Chris Gregory which he credited the brilliant combination and understanding that he and Schumann have formed and grown with each match.
Schumann’s energy around the court was inspirational and he turned up everywhere to keep each point alive. That enabled McHugh to unleash his power and wreak havoc on the English.
“We really had to take it to them today we couldn’t just sit back. It was really pleasing that we played the way we want to play as Australians.” said McHugh.
And took it to them they did 21-13, 21-16 the final score in a performance that was close to perfect but the Aussie men know to beat Canada for the Gold medal they will need yet another level and an extra special performance.
“We will prepare like we always do, there’s no doubt we will be nervous but we’ve been nervous before every match in this tournament so tomorrow will be no different. We will be ready.” said Schumann.
Australia’s women Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar will also be going for gold against Canada after facing their toughest test yet winning a nail biting three setter over Vanuatu (21-19, 16-21, 15-9).
The Aussie women were challenged all the way by the team from Vanuatu who were desperate to upset the home crowd favourites.
The first set could easily have gone either way but Australia did enough to take it 21-19. The second set saw Vanuatu jump quickly out to a 4 - 0 lead which the Aussies never fully recovered from and lost it 16-21.
So to a tie breaker third set it went.The Aussies got a handy 10-5 lead in the third and you’d think that was enough to get to the 15 points needed to close it out. But Vanuatu came again and got it back to within a point before Australia put the foot down once and for all to finish it off much to the relief of the crowd and Aussie coaching staff.
“We kept our composure. We know our strength is our trust and belief in each other and our team and we know that if we just hang in there, don’t give up, keep hustling that we would come out on top and it was so good that we did that.” said Artacho del Solar.
They now must beat the world number one ranked team Canada for the Gold Medal and that is a challenge they welcome.
“We’re excited. This is what we play for. We want to play the best and beat the best. It’s exciting and so we will relax and recover now and be ready for the game tomorrow night.” Said Clancy.