Celebrating exactly two years since Beach Volleyball made its Commonwealth Games debut at Gold Coast 2018, we spoke to Team Scotland pair Robin Miedzybrodzki and Seain Cook who had the honour of being the first Scots (just one hour ahead of women’s pair Lynne Beattie and Mel Coutts) to take to the sand and record a historic opening day win.
What did it mean to you and the sport to be included at Gold Coast 2018?
Seain: For the sport it continued to show that Beach Volleyball, although not nationally a large sport, internationally it is very popular. More personally it meant that I was able to compete at a high level again at Beach Volleyball and represent Scotland alongside one of the best players in Britain ever.
What are your memories of the Games?
Robin: I have so many incredible memories from the build up to the Games, the holding camp and also the Games themselves. The Games were the culmination of over a decade of focused work from Seain and I, both personally and as a team. I remember vividly the build up to the first game against Sri Lanka. There was a brilliant atmosphere at Coolangatta. The long walk to the court, standing in the holding pen with nerves reaching boiling point and then walking out onto the court with Seain and feeling immense pride and excitement for the match. Seain and I delivered an excellent performance in that match and we brought home the win for Team Scotland, which is a moment we will never forget.
How did it feel to step out onto court for the first time?
Seain: It felt right. We had waited a long time to be there, after winning our zonal qualifier in Cyprus we had a pretty gruelling preparation with some crazy hours for Robin and I. It felt amazing. I remember very specific moments leading up to being introduced onto court, being ready to compete with Robin and feeling very ready to start.
What was it like being part of Team Scotland?
Robin: This was a dream come true. The pride in the team was something I will never forget. The commitment to excellence and performance was superb across the sports and there was support throughout the team that was given to every single athlete, in every game, in every training session, from the moment we stepped on the plane to when we got home at the end of the Games.
Looking back two years on, what has the experience given you?
Seain: This is a tougher one. It has given me a bond with the team we had around us, we were very tight knit. I think above all it has given me a real hunger to compete again internationally and win tournaments and medals and show that volleyball in Scotland and Britain shouldn’t be looked at as just a grass roots sport, but as a high performance sport, so that younger athletes can have the inspiration to continue through the sport.
What have you been doing since Gold Coast?
Robin: Seain has been continuing his professional indoor career out in Holland and has been part of a very strong team out there who were on course to win many of the National competitions this year. However, due to the COVID-19 situation the season has been suspended and he has flown home and is currently staying in shape with home and garden workouts. Seain has a big plan to move over to the USA and play Beach Volleyball in America in the coming years with a continued drive to compete internationally for Scotland and Great Britain in the future.
I have taken a step back from the sport over the past two years following participation at Gold Coast to focus on my family and career. My 3rd daughter arrived in August 2019 so Sienna, Isabella and Indiana have been keeping me very busy. I have recently started a new role with Arcadis as Technical Director and remain committed to staying in shape and competing in various challenges like Spartan Beast and hopefully the upcoming Edinburgh Marathon. What the last 2 years has confirmed is that my soul needs the competitive outlet, and I do miss Seain, so we will see what the future holds.
Beach Volleyball is back on the programme for Birmingham 2022, is this in your plans?
Seain: Robin and I are both unsure, we haven’t been told how funding, if any, will be decided and shared across the high performance squads. I have continued to train and play at high levels while Robin, who is the fitter of us both, has been in training for a marathon and has been training with top teams in Scotland. So we are both prepared but waiting to see what the future holds.
What does it mean for the sport to have back to back appearances at the Games?
Robin: I am delighted to see Beach Volleyball in the Games for the second time and I hope that the support for the sport continues into the future. As with the Olympics, Beach Volleyball was one of the most popular sports at Gold Coast and it gave the sport the platform to showcase the athleticism, fitness, skill and tactics involved in such a dynamic sport. We all hope that this is the spring board for the sport to grow and also receive continued and improved funding support for performance and facilities that will help to improve the level of the game in Scotland. A medal in the Games is within reach on the back of the correct programme, which is an exciting prospect for the future.