2018-04-11 10:50:00 CET
Beach volleyball heavyweights to battle for Commonwealth gold
Beach Volleyball Major Series fans might know the names and faces of Chris McHugh and Damien Schumann and Sam Pedlow and Sam Schachter – but now the two teams will be beamed around the world as they go into battle on the beach in Thursday’s Commonwealth Games final.
Both tandems are ranked in the top 20 in world beach volleyball and now the eyes of the Commonwealth will be expecting a match to remember in what many predicted would be the final match-up.
Aussie favorites McHugh and Schumann, 20th in the world, have been in eye-catching form all week and the pair once again used their exciting brand of beach volleyball to blow away England’s Jake Sheaf and Chris Gregory in straight sets in their semifinal.
Meanwhile, Pedlow and Schachter, the Canadians who sit six places above them in the world rankings, have had to battle their way to Thursday’s final, showing perhaps the kind of grit that Australians are famed for.
That determination was on show throughout their semifinal against New Zealand brothers Sam and Ben O’Dea as Pedlow and Schachter overcame a wobble in both sets to record a 2-0 win to set-up Thursday’s eagerly anticipated – and historic – first Commonwealth beach volleyball final.
As hosts, the Schumann and McHugh know the important for winning gold on home sand.
“We came here to compete for gold,” defender Schumann said afterwards. “There’s been a lot of sleepless nights leading up to this event and I’m sure tonight will be no different. It’s a huge honor to be in the final, in front of the home crowd. We don’t get to play in front of them enough and you can be sure we’ll be giving it a good crack in the final.”
On their opponents in the fight for gold, McHugh said: “Sam and Sam are great competitors. They’ve improved a lot since they came to get and it will be a tough but exciting match.”
The Sams, meanwhile, are hoping to silence what is sure to be a partisan crowd when they take to the court in what will be the first meeting between the two teams.
And the North Americans are relishing the prospect of playing the role of the pantomime villain.
“The crowd’s going to be 80/20 per cent in their favor,” said Pedlow. “But we’ve played that role plenty of times over the years – despite being super nice guys…
“So it’s nothing foreign to us, we’re expecting a lot of ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie’ – but it’s all about the environment and I respect that challenge.”
Having overcome a passionate home crowd in Vienna at last year’s World Championship, when they beat Martin Ermacora and Moritz Pristauz on the Center Court, the Canadians are well versed in this kind of challenge.
“You know what hurts? Silence,” Schachter said. “That’s just as deafening as it can get in your mind. If we can get the sound of the crowd, that can do just as much damage.
“The pressure’s on them. We know them, we’ve trained with them before so we know a bit about their unconventional brand of beach volleyball.”
Pedlow added: “These are the matches and moments you train for. We can wait to get out there in the colosseum.”
Thursday’s men’s final will take play at 4.30pm local time (AEST), while the bronze medal match between England and New Zealand will start at 3.30pm local time (AEST).