Team Scotland’s Beach Volleyball players took a step closer to their historic debut at the Commonwealth Games when they arrived at Coolangatta and visited the competition venue for the first time.
The experienced pairing of Lynne Beattie and Melissa Coutts have been out training on the competition court and are impressed with the set up.
“The venue is spectacular with the high rises in the background and the setting is beautiful with the sea and the waves. We’d seen photos before, but nothing quite prepares you until you’ve seen it for yourself” said Beattie.
Coutts added “It’s good to get here – to feel the sand and the wind swirling around.”
Both women are feeling good ahead of the competition starting tomorrow, but won’t be resting on their laurels.
“It’s a tough pool. We have Australia as the hosts, Cyprus who we have played before and Grenada who are really unknown to us” said Coutts.
But the Scotland team have also had some tough conditions to train in that will have served to test their determination even further. The Scottish winter saw both men’s and women’s pairs convince a farmer in Edinburgh to provide access to his barn to create an indoor court for training.
“Winter has been tough. The Games haven’t come at a good time from that point of view for us, we would obviously want to be training outside” said Coutts.
“You can be as hardy as you want, but if the sand is freezing, you can’t go out and play, which is why the barn has worked so well for us” added Beattie. “Warm weather was always in our plans and we travelled to a tournament in Florida last month and felt ready for the Gold Coast after that”.
Arriving in Australia last week, helped cement this preparation further.
Coutts said “We had six solid days on the Sunshine Coast, which was fantastic. The training venues and exhibition matches were perfect preparation – it couldn’t have been better”.
Although focused on the task ahead, the significance of Beach Volleyball’s debut at the Commonwealth Games has not been lost.
“It’s great to be part of the Commonwealth Games. Beach Volleyball is a sport that deserves to be here – it’s good to watch – dynamic, quick, entertaining, with a different, party atmosphere, where people are encouraged to cheer”, said Coutts.
Beattie agrees and firmly believes the sport’s debut at the Games will make an impact beyond the next couple of weeks, not just on the Gold Coast, but back in Scotland.
“I think it’s massive. Young people need players to aspire to be like. We’re competing against sports like football and rugby that are in the news all the time and it’s events like this that help to inspire and show that there are opportunities in our sport.”
The men’s pair of Robin Miedzybrodzki and Seain Cook also got a taste of the 4000 seater venue and were equally impressed.
“It was crazy walking in to it all – the whole set up right here on beach is fantastic” said Miedzybrodzki. When you walk on to centre court, it gives you goosebumps thinking about walking out in front of a crowd that size”.
“Ever since we found out about Beach Volleyball being included in the Commonwealth Games, Seain and I have been talking about how we do it, how we come together to train and prepare, first of all for qualification. Once we qualified in September, we stepped it up to another level.”
As if training in the Scottish winter is not challenging enough, the pair also have to navigate the fact that Cook lives in Holland, while Miedzybrodzki lives in Edinburgh.
“It takes a lot of logistical planning, but Seain plays volleyball in Holland every day in his indoor team at a very high level and he’s taken the transition to Beach very well”, Miedzybrodzki added.
Looking ahead to the competition next week, Cook said: “We’re feeling pretty confident with the pool. We trained with Canada, so we’ve seen them. We’ve seen Sierra Leone, but not a lot of Sri Lanka.”
Miedzybrodzki concluded: “We’ve got to go out there and play at our top level and hopefully we do and it brings us close to the top of our pool and we go on to fight it out in the later rounds. It’s one match at a time, one set at a time, one contact at a time.”
Team Scotland’s men are second match on court on Friday 6 April against Sri Lanka at 11:30hrs (02:30hrs UK time) time, swiftly followed by the women taking on Grenada at 12:30 (03:30hrs UK time) the same day.