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 Press Release
Australia names Continental Cup tandems

Louise Bawden (left) will partner Becchara Palmer in the women's competition in Mt Maunganui, New Zealand
Sydney, Australia, February 7, 2012 – Australia’s Natalie Cook, gold medallist at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, will partner Tamsin Hinchley for the final zonal stage of the AVC Beach Volleyball Continental Cup, set to take place in Mt Maunganui, New Zealand from February 16 to 17, with fellow Olympians Louise Bawden and Josh Slack joining them.

Bawden will partner Becchara Palmer while Slack will team up with Chris McHugh for the tournament, which will see the top three teams qualify for the finals. Sam Boehm and Isaac Kapa make up the remaining men’s team for Australia.

The four Australian tandems will face the likes of fellow Oceania countries Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Western Samoa, the Cook Islands, the Northern Marianas and hosts New Zealand.

Australia coach Steve Tutton, who has been a major part of Australia’s last four Olympic campaigns, was confident ahead of the tournament.

“Australia has a real chance of qualifying two teams in the women’s tournament for London through the top 16 stage and through the Continental Cup process,” he said. “At the moment Palmer and Bawden are sitting in 15th and Cook and Hinchley at 25th on the FIVB Olympic rankings.
“But not only do teams have to make the top 16 they have to have played in 12 FIVB tournaments and so that’s another challenge for Cook and Hinchley.
“So we have to show our dominance throughout the Continental Cup tournaments and every team will be in there playing their hearts out for Australia and it will also be vital for us to be armed with good quality scouting information.
“The boys teams know their best realistic chances for London will be through stages two and three and they will be there playing for each other the whole way.
“It will also be important to ensure that through this whole process that if our teams do qualify that they are all in the best possible shape to challenge for medals in London.”

The three countries that finish on the podium will face teams from across Asia in the AVC Beach Volleyball Continental Cup finals from June 18 to 24, with the winner of that earning a berth to the London 2012 Olympic Games. So far, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Japan, Kazakhstan and Sri Lanka have qualified for both the men’s and women’s editions while Chinese Taipei and India join the women’s bracket and Hong Kong and Iran join the men’s.
Tutton said that if one of the women’s teams qualifies through the Top 16 stage one process and stages two and three are still alive he will promote the emerging team of Taliqua Clancy and Karly Hynes to step up and help Australia qualify.

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