2018-04-06 13:22:00 CET
Top teams dominate the first evening session at the Commonwealth Games
World number ones Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan showed their gold medal credentials with a crushing victory in their first match of the Commonwealth Games on Friday on the Gold Coast.
The Canadians are tipped to take home the top prize after last season’s brilliant campaign on the World Tour that saw them win Beach Volleyball Major Series gold in Croatia. And against Fijian duo Laite Nima and Iliseva Ratudina they showed no mercy, winning 21-5, 21-8 in just 24 minutes.
It was a humbling experience in more ways than one for the North Americans.
“They told us they watch us on YouTube and that they were honored to be playing against us,” Melissa said after the win. “It shows there’s more to this sport than meets the eye. It was really humbling to hear them say how much they appreciated playing us.”
The evening session saw Team England make it two wins from two on the opening day of competition after Jessica Grimson and Victoria Palmer followed up the earlier win of compatriots Chris Gregory and Jake Sheaf.
Jessica and Victoria were in sharp form to see off the challenge of Rheeza Grant and Abby Blackman of Trinidad & Tobago in straight sets, 21-16, 21-12.
“This was a really important game because we were going into the unknown – we didn’t know too much about this team,” admitted Palmer. “They have a different style of play to us; they’re big hitters while we’re a little smaller so we had to stay calm and patient.”
Although the duo are used to the hype of a Beach Volleyball Major Series, the interest in their participation at the Games has meant they’ve had to work hard to keep focused on the job in hand.
“It’s been another world,” explained Grimson. “There’s been a lot of interest which we’re not really used to. That’s great for us and for the sport, but we knew we had to focus on training. It’s been intense but we’ve had to thank our coach for putting together the programme for us. From what I’ve seen, we’ve probably trained more than anyone else.”
The last word on day one belonged to Australian darlings Chris McHugh and Damien Schumann who blitzed Fiji’s Sairusi Cavula and Inia Korowale in straight sets, 21-9, 21-9 to the delight of the crowd.
With all eyes on the Aussies to keep the gold on home sand, the experienced tandem know how to deal with the pressure. But no sooner was the match in the bag there was already talk of gold!
“It’s funny when we win our first pool play match the announcer starts by talking about gold medals – calm down guys!” laughed Damien afterwards. “There’s been a lot of hype but all we’re concentrating on is getting better, just like we would at any tournament. It just so happens we’re playing in Australia and there’s a lot more people watching here, which is fantastic.”
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