2018-04-12 11:11:00 CEST

Aussie grit paves the way for gold

Party time for Australia as home favorites fight back in Commonwealth epic

The medalists pose at the awards ceremony. Photocredit: Beach Major SeriesThe medalists pose at the awards ceremony. Photocredit: Beach Major Series

Trailing the deciding set 12-9 and with the deflated hopes of a nation resting on their shoulders, Australia’s Chris McHugh and Damien Schumann knew they had to summon some Aussie grit to turn silver into gold.

With the help of the energy of the crowd, they did – and in doing so made history by becoming the first Commonwealth champions after an epic three-set victory over the Canadian pair of Sams, Pedlow and Schachter.

How did they do it? Yep, that famous steel and determination Australian athletes are famed for.

“We didn’t start great in the third set, we were 3-1 down but we had to hang in there, scrap, and fight in that true Aussie way,” McHugh said afterwards. “It was a seesaw battle throughout but we hung in there long enough to put the pressure on and eventually they cracked, and we took the opportunity when we came. That’s beach volleyball.”

A smiling Schumann said: “It might have looked fun but it’s no fun for the four men on the court! There’s an absolutely intensity. Your eyes go wider; your heart beats faster, perhaps we should be doing at the start of the match rather than at 14 or 15 all in the final set. You feel as though you can do everything and so does the opposition. It’s amazing what can happen in beach volleyball.”

The goosebump moments, made by the Major Series, spread across the Center Court as the game entered its spine-tingling climax but, for the triumphant duo, it was a proud, history-making moment that was extra special as the glory came, of course, on home sand.

“It’s great to have this event in Australia,” Schumann said after a high-quality final. “We’re not just proud because we won but because we were able to compete in front of a home crowd which we don’t do very often.

“Unfortunately we have to leave them as we’re away for months on end. It’s a privilege to show all our friends and family a match on an international level that they don’t get to see. They see us training, traveling the world, having no money. They see the sacrifices we have to make but rarely to do they see the end product like they did in a game like that.”

The Australians won’t be heading to Xiamen next week as they take a break after their exploits here but Schumann and McHugh will be hoping to use the success as a springboard for more success on the international scene.

In a high-quality final Pedlow and Schachter came mighty close to earning gold - but had to settle for silver. Photocredit: Beach Major SeriesIn a high-quality final Pedlow and Schachter came mighty close to earning gold - but had to settle for silver. Photocredit: Beach Major Series

And the same can be said of silver medalists Pedlow and Schachter – who will be in China.

“We have to bounce back, we’re going to Xiamen and we need to focus on that tournament because it’s important for us,” Schachter said. “In terms of qualifying points for the tour and for 2020 so there’s a lot to look forward to. The year is young and I’m optimistic with how we’re performing.”

In the bronze medal match, New Zealand brothers Sam and Ben O’Dea pipped England’s Jake Sheaf and Chris Gregory in the fight for third place.

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