25 July, 2024
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Australian volleyballers to dig for gold in shadow of Eiffel Tower

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Having weathered injury and illness, Australian beach volleyball stars Taquila Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar will be rewarded with a world-class view at the Paris Olympics.

The Tokyo silver medallists have joined debutants Thomas Hodges and Zachery Schubert as Olympic selections, with results at the Continental Cup in China next week deciding whether another men’s team also qualifies.

Amid the relief of being picked for her third Games with Artacho and their determination to go one better on the podium, Clancy said having the Eiffel Tower as the venue backdrop is also a big thrill.

A temporary beach volleyball stadium will be built at the Champ de Mars for the Games.

 Tokyo medallists Taquila Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar, plus Zachery Schubert and Thomas Hodges will compete in beach volleyball at the Paris Games. Video by Abe Maddison 

“It’s going to be absolutely amazing. Every athlete is jealous of our venue – I get comments about it all the time,” Clancy said at Friday’s team announcement.

“I’m more than happy to make everyone jealous about the venue we (will) have.”

But getting there has been a battle.

Clancy and Artacho finished fourth at the world championships last year, with Artacho battling a bacterial infection.

Then in March, they had to pull out of an international event at Doha because Clancy was nursing an elbow injury.

They had to be among the top 17 on international rankings to qualify for the Olympics and managed 12th.

They have much more lofty expectations for Paris.

Mariafe Artacho Del Solar and Taliqua Clancy.
 Beach Volleyball duo Mariafe Artacho Del Solar and Taliqua Clancy are Paris-bound. Image by Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS 

“All I’m thinking about is the performance in Paris, but it’s really nice to have these moments, to sit and reflect,” Clancy said of their selection.

“The aim is always to do better and for us that is a gold medal.”

South Australian pair Schubert and Hodges only started competing in the last two years and they achieved selection with a world ranking of 16.

“We get along really well off the court and that makes our on-court relationship even stronger,” he said.

“We spend so much time together … more than I get with my partner Britt.”

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