Duo hail 'phenomenal' victory

29 July 2012 / 22:28

Britain's Zara Dampney and Shauna Mullin hailed their Olympic beach volleyball debut as a "phenomenal" experience after digging deep to secure an absorbing three-set victory over Canada at Horse Guards Parade.

The pair delighted the partisan home crowd by prevailing on a typically British afternoon, dropping a set behind as the rain fell on Westminster before rallying for an emphatic victory as the sun finally broke through the gloom.

The pair showed flashes of real quality on their way to a gripping 17-21 21-14 15-13 victory in Pool F, which leaves them well placed to continue their Olympic journey beyond the preliminary phase.

Mullin and Dampney had a little taste of Horse Guards Parade at a pre-Olympic test event a year ago, but with centre court now a 15,000-seater venue rather than 1,500, the match provided them with a wholly new experience not to be forgotten in a hurry.

"It was amazing," Dampney told Press Association Sport. "We kind of had a taster when we did the test event last year but this was just unbelievable, even more phenomenal.

"We just wanted to relax, enjoy it, play volleyball the way we know we can, and I don't think I'll ever forget it. People were having a good time, the crowd was really amazing, they really got behind us. When things got close we never gave up, we didn't want to let the crowd down or let Great Britain down."

Mullin and Dampney have worked hard just to reach the Games, emerging victorious from a long battle with Denise Johns and Lucy Boulton for the right to represent Team GB, and both looked delighted to finally step out on the Olympic stage to face Marie-Andree Lessard and Annie Martin at the start of the contest.

Sadly the weather had not read the script, with the rain that had blighted much of the day belligerently refusing to clear ahead of the match, and no doubt contributing to the unexpectedly low attendance figure of just 9,800.

Mullin insisted, however, the weather was not to blame for their slow start, saying that in such conditions it is the spectators rather than the players who suffer.

"We're used to playing in the rain as we train here [in the UK] quite a lot," she said. "I think it has more of an affect on the spectators who have to sit in the rain to watch us. But the amazing thing was they stayed, they kept cheering and kept the atmosphere going and pumped us the whole way through. To come out and win tells people we are here to do something."