Australia’s Chris McHugh and Damien Schumann have made history by winning the first ever Gold Medal handed out for Beach Volleyball at a Commonwealth Games.
The final was as tense as they come with Canada’s Sam Schachter and Sam Pedlow, the higher world ranked team, proving a mighty tough opponent.
The Aussies were forced to earn every point in front of their home crowd and it was that crowd that no doubt played its part in Australia’s nail biting three set victory.
“It’s great to have 5000 Australians cheering for you. There’s no other feeling like it. Damo and I will never forget the feeling of playing in front of a home crowd like that.” Said McHugh.
After the win an emotional Damien Schumann was still trying to take in what he and McHugh had just achieved.
“I look down at the Gold Medal around my neck and I still can’t believe its there, it won’t sink in for a fair few days I reckon. I just can’t believe it.”
The tone for the match was set early, neither side would give an inch as McHugh and Pedlow went toe to toe at the net with neither dominating for any length of time.
Canada had trailed by a point for most of the set and finally nudged ahead at 16-15 and looked to be finishing the stronger. In true fighting Aussie spirit McHugh/Schumann responded and what a point it was that took them to set point at 20-18 and set the full stadium alight.
The Australians won it 21-19 but this was never going to be easy as the Canadians turned the tables in the second to put their nose in front when it mattered and square the match up by taking the second set 21-18.
The deciding set had it all! McHugh was bending his back and getting off the ground with huge jump serves but with each punch there was a Canadian counter punch.
The Canadians got a mini break in the tie breaker and got to what seemed to be a winning lead of 12-9 in a final set that only goes to 15 points, but somehow the Australians found a way out of the hole they were in and claimed a famous victory.
Schumann was the inspiration but it was his taller team mate that brought it home for Australia.
“You shouldn’t really win matches when you’re 9-12 down in the third set but we just said hey lets just roll the dice and see what happens. To Chris’ credit he came up with some killer serves which is very hard to do under those circumstances and a massive block and we did it!” said Schumann.
As the final point went Australia’s way the crowd went wild as they knew they’d just witnessed history with Australia winning the sports first ever Gold medal at a Commonwealth Games.
“Its one of the proudest moments of my life to and something that will link Damo and me together for the rest of our lives. There’s no words that can really describe how we feel after so much effort and hard work that you put in over the years.” Said McHugh.
It’ll be a big night of celebrating for the Australian men and a long line of media commitments but this is a moment they plan to savour.
Beach Volleyball was only included late to GC2018 and is not certainty to be included again when Birmingham hosts the Commonwealth games in 2022.
“We don’t want to be a one hit wonders. I think we’ve shown here, the Australian public have shown that Beach Volleyball has a place in the Commonwealth Games.”