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Beach volleyball duo target Rio

August 6, 2012 15:23 pm

Shauna Mullin and Zara Dampney hope the experience of their Olympics debut at Horse Guards Parade can drive them all the way to a second appearance on beach volleyball's biggest stage in Rio in 2016.

The British pair departed London 2012 last week after one win from four matches in the women's tournament, but more than held their own against some of the world's best players.

The sport's outing in Westminster over the past week has raised its profile in this country to a new level. However, to taste the Olympics again Dampney and Mullin will have to qualify on merit, which means the Brits will have to crack the world's top 16 between now and the summer of 2016.

Edinburgh-based Mullin, 27, said: "Being at the Olympics was major and we've definitely learned a lot of lessons and there's stuff that we can work towards for Rio. We're just trying to soak up everything.

"Zara and I are really quite young in terms of beach volleyball experience, and though it's becoming more of a physical game, so much of it is about experience - knowing when to push in a set, what to do at certain times. I think it's the experience side that's going to have to work out over the next four years."

Asked if Rio was a realistic target, Mullin's 25-year-old team-mate Dampney said: "Yes. We need to talk to our coaches a lot and we don't know how it's going to work out in terms of funding. I think we need to regroup, clear our minds and see how we're going to go forward."

The duo believe Team GB's 'Super Saturday' - when six gold medals were won by the host nation in athletics, cycling and rowing - is testament to what can be achieved with the right organisation, and hopes the lessons can be applied to British beach volleyball in the years ahead.

"You need to be nurtured, everything needs to be under control, you need structure in terms of all the different elements that go together, it's not just our technical training, everything has to work together," said Dampney.

"Rowing and athletics have had years and years of history, they have people involved in the sport that have been involved for so long - they've been to so many Olympics - that they can pass down their experience to the athletes.

"Beach volleyball obviously doesn't have that history and it does not have the expertise that we need to get those medals, so I guess that's the next step so we can go to the next level."

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