FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour

Rio Grand Slam 2016 | 8 - 13 mars 2016

#RioGS


Press release

Bawden and Clancy dare to dream of Copacabana Beach


Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in the Netherlands

Lausanne, Switzerland, August 26, 2015 - There was a pause at the other end of the phone, followed by a sigh, and then mock exasperation.

“It sat on the damn tape, and if that tape hadn’t been so new it would have gone over!”

It was Australian beach volleyballer and two-time Olympian, Louise Bawden, reliving the heartbreaking serve she had on match point at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships The Netherlands 2015 that could have put her and Taliqua  Clancy into the semifinals.

“We knew that we could have won that match, and for me that was definitely the part that stung the most,” 34-year-old Bawden said this week.

“I had the serve on match point, and I won’t forget that. It sat on the damn tape, and if the tape hadn’t been so new that ball would have gone over!”

“It was ridiculously tight,” Clancy chimes in.

The Australians went on to lose the match, against Brazil’s Taiana Lima and Fernanda Alves, 2-1 (15-21, 21-16, 18-16). The Brazilians went on to win the silver medal, while Bawden and Clancy had to settle for fifth.

But it says a lot about the progress of Bawden and Clancy that they were disappointed with the result.

They only came together after the London Olympics, and had reasonable but not outstanding 2013 and 2014 international seasons.

I’m speaking to Bawden while she waits at Los Angeles Airport to fly back to Europe for this week’s Olsztyn Grand Slam.

Her and Clancy have just finished fourth at the Long Beach Grand Slam in California, their second top four result for the year.

But Bawden is disappointed.

“We had to cop a fourth, but we’re definitely pleased to make the final four,” she said.

“The aim is always to win that round three match and get into the pointy end of the competition. But we didn’t quite capitalise this week, so that was a bit of a shame.

“It’s not particularly pleasant to go through two losses and feel like we haven’t performed the way we would have liked to.”

Bawden agrees that 12 months ago she would have been stoked with a top four finish, and that it’s a good sign that she’s now down on herself.

“Yes, you don’t want to get too down about a fourth, and feel like we’ve failed,” she said.

“But our plans on the domestic tour revolve around the expectation we will be playing on the final day, and we want to build the same sort of mindset on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.

“The lifting of expectations can’t become a measuring stick for the measuring of the experience. It’s part of the evolution of the team.”

That evolution has propelled Bawden and Clancy into a top five ranking in the race for Olympic berths next year. The top 15, as of June 2016, will earn their country starting gigs in Rio.

Put simply, things would have to go very, very bad for Bawden and Clancy to fail to qualify from here.

But Louise Bawden is one of the world’s most focused athletes, driven and with a steely resolve to succeed.

She can’t deny the healthy position she and 23-year-old Clancy find themselves in, but you have to push her to acknowledge life as an aspiring Rio Olympian is pretty good.

“It’s exciting,” she said.

“It puts us in a position where we are actually taking steps towards the ultimate dream, where we are putting ourselves in a position where we are testing ourselves against the best teams in the world.

“We can now start to focus on positively influencing our potential Olympic seeding.”

And even though she would prefer not to, preparing for next year’s Olympics is going to require replaying her experience at the World Championships, and that shattering failed serve.

“The World Championships was an opportunity to go through an experience most similar to the Olympic Games,” she said.

“The format, the experience, the way everything is run. It was like our Olympics for this year, it was important for more than just our team, but also for Volleyball Australia. So there was a reasonable amount riding on it.

“Losing that quarterfinal, it wasn’t the only thing, but it’s the sort of thing that sticks in our brain.”

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