Top-ranked Australians look to kick-start Olympic campaign
Isaac Kapa and Chris McHugh had a frustrating 2015, with injury and form problems, but are ready to launch an assault on Olympic qualification.
“We’ve had some challenges along the way, no doubt, but as a team I think we are in a strong position coming into this year,” McHugh said.
“Our focus is on ourselves, pushing forward and improving in certain areas that we want to be good at.”
Kapa and McHugh came together after the London 2012 Olympic Games, immediately making an impact by winning the Asian Championships.
But after a solid first season on the international circuit, Kapa had to sit out a summer to undergo shoulder surgery.
“There’s been frustrations at time, but getting injured is part and parcel of being an athlete,” Kapa said.
“Now it’s just about getting back into it. We do have a really good Volleyroos squad at the moment, and they’ve been in Adelaide and training with us, ramping up the quality of the volleyball we are all playing.”
Kapa and McHugh will be challenged this weekend by Victorian pair, Josh Court and Damien Schumann, who have won both the South Australia (SA) and Queensland Opens this summer already.
Also putting pressure on will be former Olympian and national coach, Josh Slack, and former Danish international, Bo Soderberg, as well as Perth pair Cole Durant and Casey Grice.
And adding to the intrigue will be top ranked New Zealanders, Mike Watson and Sam O’Dea.
Women’s top seeds Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy will not be competing on the Gold Coast, leaving the door open for World U23 champions Nikki Laird and Mariafe Artacho del Solar to further cement their potential as Olympic qualifiers.
The Australian Championships begin on Saturday on the Gold Coast, with the finals on Monday afternoon.