A taste of gold on the road to Tokyo

Aussie athletes and supporters are beginning to warm up, with less than 75 days to go until the Games in Tokyo! The final countdown is now on. 

These Games will be unique for a number of reasons, but they will be especially important as a highlight in the lives of the athletes and young kids whose lives have shifted dramatically with the shutdown of competitive and social sports.

Sport is a thread that connects many of us with our communities, and we know how important participation is for our kids’ physical and social development, as well as their overall wellbeing. And, of course, those same benefits are there for adults, too. 

A key component of sport, as in life, is competition. It keeps us on our toes, keeps us progressing, and can push us into new possibilities that we may never have dreamed of. We learn how to celebrate and replicate our successes, and we take learnings from our losses.

For professional athletes, competition is key for performing at their peak, and this is something that has sadly been lacking since early 2020. And while the road to Tokyo has been a bumpy one, the flipside is that the upcoming Games will be one of the most exciting ever – I just know we’ll see some extraordinary performances coming out of left-field! Athletes who may not have been on the radar in 2020 could now be primed to steal the show...

Speaking of extraordinary performances, our Australian beach volleyball team – Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar (pictured above with head coach Kirk Pitman)– have just grabbed gold in a World Cup that also doubled as an Olympic qualifier in Mexico! The tournament at the ‘Cancun Hub’ in Mexico was their first international competition in over 12 months, following their gold medal win at the Aus Beach Volleyball Tour in February. They really had to give it their all in the fierce three-week competition against the world’s best teams, and although they went into the finals as underdogs, they played an incredible game, where the score flipped dramatically back and forth. They held their nerve the whole time, whether up or down on the scoreboard, and a few amazing serving runs and blocking moments shifted the momentum. Never giving up, they managed to steal the win right at the end of a close 3 set match. 19-21, 22-20, 16-14 beating Brazil’s Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda ‘Duda’ Lisboa in an absolutely thrilling game (which you can watch in full on the Volleyball Australia Page).

A win like this sets the team in good stead for their upcoming competition on the world’s biggest stage in July. There’s no doubt all eyes will be on this powerhouse duo as they forge their path to Tokyo. 

With beach sports like surfing and sailing, and new urban youth sports like rock climbing and skateboarding making their debut at these Games, Aussies will get to watch professional athletes competing in some of our country’s most popular leisure sports. We’re lucky to enjoy beautiful beaches and stunning landscapes all around our country, and seeing these athletes compete at the highest level is bound to inspire kids to pick up a surfboard, climb a mountain... or grab a beach volleyball!

It makes me proud to see the impact Taliqua and Mariafe are making, as incredible athletes and advocates for the sport of beach volleyball. It may be time for me to pass the baton – these girls are amazing role models for our next generation and will inspire our heroes of 2032 (hopefully right here in our backyard!)

And, as COVID re-shapes what it means to work and travel for our athletes, Mariafe and Taliqua have returned to Aussie shores for 2 weeks quarantine before they get back into their intensive training schedule, and then get busy stuffing their suitcases full of green and gold for Tokyo!

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