2018-04-09 05:50:00 CET

A Major helping hand

Commonwealth elite thankful to Beach Major Series for Gold Coast Games preparation

Beach Volleyball Major Series on Twitter

We do what we do to help the athletes and to grow beach volleyball. So we sat down and spoke to the beach stars at #GC2018 to find out how the #FTLMajor helped them prepare for #GC2018Volleyball Watch this video, and read the full story here: https://t.co/kJhtKuPJTY šŸ‘Š https://t.co/UJZSjKrIkD

 

The beach stars of Commonwealth Games have high-fived the Beach Volleyball Major Series for giving them the ideal preparation for this tournament following the Fort Lauderdale Major back in March.

All eight teams who took part in the USD 400,000 five-star event, the highest level of beach volleyball, in Florida that are competing at the Games in Australia have successfully made it through to the quarterfinals at Coolangatta Beach.

The exposure to the Major Series’ unique brand of high-class beach volleyball and entertainment prior to the world’s second largest multi-games event has been invaluable to some of the favorites for gold Down Under.

“The Major Series is spectacular, it’s similar in the Commonwealth Games, and we’re privileged to play on the Major Series in some amazing venues,” explains Australia’s Taliqua Clancy, who with partner Mariafe Artacho del Solar finished ninth in Fort Lauderdale. “The buzz, the nerves, the excitement, the goosebumps. It’s the perfect preparation and it definitely helps creating that environment.

“The Major Series really showcases to the world that beach volleyball isn’t just for the Olympics, and the Commonwealth Games is another big opportunity to show how big the sport is. It’s one of the most participated sports in the world right now and we need to keep it in people’s minds.”

That’s a few shared by the current world number ones, and favorites for gold in Gold Coast, Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes.

The Canadian duo enjoyed a stunning debut season together last year, reaching the semifinals in seven of their eight competitions and celebrated Major Series success with won gold in Poreč and bronze in Gstaad.

“At the Commonwealth Games, every game is on Center Court and Mel and I love playing on the big court, the intimate experience you get with the fans,” says Sarah, who gave up indoor volleyball earlier this year to focus on the beach in 2018. “Beach Majors do a great job of bringing people together on Center Court to create an atmosphere to get us ready for Australia.”

Sam Schachter celebrates during the Fort Lauderdale Major, where he and Sam Pedlow finished ninthSam Schachter celebrates during the Fort Lauderdale Major, where he and Sam Pedlow finished ninth

Humana-Paredes, voted last season’s Most Improved Player, added: “Beach Majors does an incredible job, both for athletes and fans. The tournaments prepares us for these big games and the Major Series nails it every time. To be exposed to the excitement, the music, the people, fans, the stadium and fireworks prepares us really well!”

Fellow Canadians Sam Schachter and Sam Pedlow are also no strangers to the big stage. And the pair, who finished ninth in Fort Lauderdale, knew the five-star tournament would be a massive opportunity to prepare for a tilt at the Commonwealth title.

“Using the Major Series to prepare for these Major events is critical, so we’re able to get use playing in front of big crowds, dealing with nerves and just having general preparation like the on and off the court routine,” says Schachter, who played in the Rio Olympics with former partner Josh Binstock.

“It’s important to start a Games well and not be affected by the potential distractions. We have to take advantage of the bonus that we’re able to compete in an environment like the Fort Lauderdale Major before we play the Commonwealth Games.”

Shaunna Polley (left) and Kelsie Wills made their Major Series debut in Fort Lauderdale - losing to the eventual silver medalistsShaunna Polley (left) and Kelsie Wills made their Major Series debut in Fort Lauderdale - losing to the eventual silver medalists

Two teams in action on the Gold Coast made their debuts on the Major Series in Fort Lauderdale and both tandems believe their exposure to the big tournament experience has played a vital part in their warm-up for the Gold Coast.

“As preparation goes, coming to the Fort Lauderdale Major was invaluable to us,” New Zealand’s Shaunna Polley, who together with Kelsie Wills lost in the last round of qualification in Florida, told us. “It was pretty expensive for us to come over from New Zealand but it’s the best thing we could have done. To get away from New Zealand and playing against the next level of competition, and working and training has been so good for our game. We feel we’ve improved in just one week by being here.”

Those thoughts are echoed by England’s Jessica Grimson and Victoria Palmer, the British champions, who harbor hopes of a medal Down Under.

“Playing in five-star tournaments is amazing,” says Jessica. “There were not many opportunities for us to play competitively before the Games, so to come to America and be among the best players in the world, to see how they prepare; to experience the big tournament stage, it’s is a big learning experience for us.”

And Australian favorites in the men’s draw, Chris McHugh and Damien Schumann have also experienced the Beach Major Series buzz.

“In beach volleyball you get to be so close to the action. You get to know the players, and the atmosphere is awesome,” says Schumann. “There’s a DJ and the party vibe is like no other. The Major Series play a major role in that, in Fort Lauderdale and at the World Championships in Vienna, it gave us a taste for the Commonwealth Games.”

So who will become the first ever Commonwealth beach volleyball champions? Stick with us and find out! Chances are their faces will be familiar…

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