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2018-04-08 06:19:00 CET

Aussies out to conquer the world

Despite two big wins at the Comm Games, Damien Schumann and Chris McHugh know there’s more to come

Damien Schumann (left) and Chris McHugh want Commonwealth gold - and success on the World TourDamien Schumann (left) and Chris McHugh want Commonwealth gold - and success on the World Tour

No team has played in more tournaments on the World Tour in the last 12 months than Commonwealth Games home favorites Chris McHugh and Damien Schumann.

In the year that’s passed, the boys in green and gold have 17 international events under their belts and following a number of top-10 finishes they’ve climbed their way into the top 2o of the world.

Here, in their home event, the Australians have made the perfect start, with their latest victory – over St Kitts and Nevis’ St Clair Hodge and Shawn Seabrookes – earning them a place in the knockout stages.

But while they chase the dream of winning gold meters from where they once played for fun in Coolangatta, the duo know that once the tournament finishes important work will continue as they eye regular places in the main draw of the Beach Volleyball Major Series and other World Tour events as attention turns to Tokyo 2020.

“With Olympic qualification beginning in September it’s important we start the European leg of the World Tour well and keep pushing for a place in the top 16 – but that’s tough,” said McHugh, who with Schumann exited the pool play phase at the Fort Lauderdale Major back in March. “It’s hard when you have to qualify for events but our goal is to keep rolling, enjoy the sport and play a strong Australian style of beach volleyball.”

The boys in green and gold came close to causing a big upset at the World Championships in Vienna last yearThe boys in green and gold came close to causing a big upset at the World Championships in Vienna last year

The pair have been together for 18 months now and are beginning to find their rhythm with a string of excellent display on the world stage, including a ninth place in Vienna’s World Championships that saw them run eventual World Tour Finals champions Nick Lucena and Phil Dalhausser close.

“We’re constantly getting better on the things we want to improve on,” said defender Schumann. “Like any partnership sometimes it’s one step forward, two steps back but we just have to keep going.”

Elsewhere on the morning session on day three of the Games, in the women’s draw the two top teams in Pool B both recorded straight-sets wins – and will now meet on Monday to decide who takes first place in the pool.

Big tournament favorites Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan of Canada brushed aside Trinidad & Tobago, while England’s Jessica Grimson and Victoria Palmer also enjoyed a comfortable win, defeating the team from Fiji.

“The pressure is on them, they’re the favorites but we’re in good form,” Palmer told us. “It’s great to be able to play them. We’ve worked so hard to be in a position to play on the world stage and now to play the world number one – not many people get the chance to do that in their careers. It’s going to be an amazing experience but we just want to go out there and perform.”

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