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Swapping shoes for beach barefeet!

Canadian twins Nicole (left) and Megan McNamara look forward to participating in the Beach Volleyball competition at the Youth Olympic Games starting August 17 in Nanjing, China.

Lausanne, Switzerland, August 11, 2014 - When growing up in the beautiful surroundings of western Canada, Megan McNamara and her twin sister had to make an interesting decision.  Do they continue playing softball and soccer?  Or do they take off their cleats and play barefoot in the sand to become competitive Beach Volleyball participants?

For Megan the choice was easy.  "We enjoyed playing soccer and softball," said the 17-year old Megan, "but Beach Volleyball was different as we both could play together as one team.  Beach Volleyball is a growing activity in British Columbia.  We first saw Beach Volleyball when were on vacation in Mexico and we played in our first tournament when we were 11."

For the McNamara twins, the transition from the playing fields to sand has been "easy".  Megan and Nicole McNamara have been making a name for themselves as the pair enters the upcoming Youth Olympics as one of the top tandems in the 36-team women's competition that begins August 17 at the Beach Volleyball Venue of Nanjing Sports Park Complex in Nanjing, China.

The winners of Canada's senior women's Beach Volleyball championship in 2013 after topping the country's under-16 and U18 podiums in 2011 and 2012, respectively, the McNamara twins have compiled a 14-3 match mark this season in FIVB youth world championships highlighted by a bronze medal finish at the recently-completed under-19 competition in Porto, Portugal.

"Like all teams, our goal is to get to the podium!" said Megan.  "It is such an honor to represent Canada in the Youth Olympics.  We're excited to meet other athletes from different the sports from all over the world.  We are also excited to see China as we’ve never been there before."

To qualify for the Youth Olympics, the McNamaras had to play in three events to reach Nanjing.  "First, we qualified as Team Canada at a tournament in Toronto,” said Megan.  "Then we went to a NORCECA event in Puerto Rico and placed second that earned us a spot at the last chance qualifier this past March. We won all of our matches again in Puerto Rico to earn us a berth."

In addition to experience at the Canadian championships and the FIVB youth tournaments in Cyprus and Portugal this season, the McNamaras have played in a 2012 American domestic event while competing in a NORCECA tour stop last year in Saint Lucia where the twins finished seventh.

Coached by Mischa Harris and Adriana Bento, the McNamaras have "verbally committed to UCLA in Los Angeles”, said Nicole when interviewed August 1 in Porto when the twins celebrated their birthdays by winning their pool in the U19 world championships. “Even before volleyball, our dream was California, so it worked out perfectly. There is really not a better place to play Beach Volleyball than California. We have given up indoor for this next year.”

Before attending UCLA, the McNamaras need to complete their senior year in high school in Vancouver along with finishing their 2014 international schedule strong at the Youth Olympics.

"As I said, our goal is to medal in China,” said Megan, who is interested in math and business as a student.  “Winning the bronze medal in Portugal was surreal, it was almost like a dream.  We really have given our best and look forward to competing at a high level again in China.  It will not be easy as the Olympics will bring out the best in everyone.”

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