Kerri Pottharst – Teams continue to build on progress from 2013
“It wasn’t too surprising that we saw two new teams topping the FIVB Beach Volleyball Season Rankings because beach volleyballers at the elite level live their lives in four year blocks. They try and plan who they’re going to play with and plan their lives around those four-years. In the first year after the Games you see a lot of retirements and see a lot of people changing teams and trying out different partnerships.
“Brazil’s Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima and Latvia’s Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs deserved great credit for topping the rankings this year.
“The Latvian boys have found their niche, they are extremely skilful and found something that they love doing. Living in a smaller country, I'm sure that they have become quite well-known as sports people and that will give them a lot of confidence. They will get great support from their country.
“2014 will see teams consolidating on what they did last year. They’ll say let’s keep it the way it was in 2013 all the way through to Rio, or they make some changes to find the winning edge. Those that are happy in their teams will be trying to consolidate their partnerships so they go into 2015 with the partners they want to take through to Rio as it's the start of the qualifying period.
“There is no doubt that Kerri Walsh and April Ross are going to be up with the leaders, it just depends on how many tournaments Kerri can play and if she can commit herself to entire Tour. They’ve got a big entourage when they travel around, it is always going to be harder for a mother of three than any other player; half of her head and her heart are going to be on the family and the other half on the beach volleyball court. She has already shown that she can handle that at the last Olympics and they have so much experience, so I'm sure they will make it work. The biggest test will be their communication and their partnership because they’ve been on opposite sides of the net for so long, playing against each other.
“Talita and Lima have had a fantastic first season together, and while Kerri and April will be reaching finals, I think we’re still going to have a variety of teams on the podium this year. The Germans have had some podium finishes, the Chinese too and they won the last event in South Africa.
“As for Australia’s leading pairs, they will soon be honing their partnerships in the Renault National Beach Volleyball Tour, Down Under, over the coming months. I expect Lousie Bawden and Taliqua Clancy and Chris McHugh and Isaac Kapa to continue moving up the rankings after their good season in 2013.
“Taliqua is an absolutely natural beach volleyball player who has won bronze at a Youth and Junior World Championships, while Louise provides many years of experience. Taliqua is the best player Australia has produced for at least 10 years and she is so young and excited about the opportunity she has. She is also the first indigenous player we've had competing at this level, which is exciting for our country.
“Christ McHugh and Isaac Kapa are extremely physical and work really hard. The thing both teams need is to get used to is "winning" on the world tour. They’ve come close to some good teams but haven’t been able to get over that line. I think this year will be important for them to learn how to do that on a regular basis.”
Kerri Pottharst is a former Australian beach volleyball and volleyball player and famously won gold along with Nathalie Cook at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games in front of her home fans. She also claimed bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and competed at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. She last played on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour in 2004 but since then has married and had a 5 yrs old son called Tyson. She is a highly sought after Motivational Speaker as well as spending time on the sand coaching beach volleyball. Most recently, Kerri has released a book titled “The Business of Being an Athlete” a step-by-step guide on how the right attitude, the right tools, and the right approach took her from being a part-time athlete to becoming a multi-award winning champion, a hot property for sponsorship, and a successful entrepreneur. For more information on Kerri visit www.kerripottharst.com or www.thebusinessofbeinganathlete.com