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London 2012: Olympic qualification edges closer for two British beach volleyball pairings
Gold at the semi-final of the CEV Continental Cup in France last weekend has pushed the British women’s beach volleyball squad a step closer to qualifying two pairings for the London 2012 Olympics.
The four-strong British team’s success in Sèvres has secured them a place at next month’s Final in Moscow. The winner of that Final qualifies a place at the London 2012 Games, so if the British team win in Russia they will qualify a second team for 2012 in addition to their host nation spot.
The teams finishing second and third in Moscow will get a further opportunity to qualify through the World Cup Olympic Qualification event.
Although beach volleyball is played in teams of pairs, the Continental Cup is played as a tournament with national teams of two pairings.
The British team of Shauna Mullin and Zara Dampney, along with Denise Johns and Lucy Boulton (pictured above), won the opening rounds of the Continental Cup semi-final, with a 3-0 win over Bulgaria and a 3-1 victory over Slovakia.
In the final, Johns and Boulton won their opening contest against Alejandra Simon and Cristina Hopf, but the Spaniards then went 2-1 up in the tie after Liliana Fernandez Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo beat Mullin and Dampney and then Johns and Boulton.
Mullin and Dampney pulled it back to level the tie by beating Simon and Hopf. That set up a golden set, with Fernandez Steiner and Baquerizo, who were unbeaten throughout the competition in Sèvres, facing Mullin and Dampney. The British pair took the set 15-13 to collect the silverware.
“It was a good result for us,” Boulton said. “It keeps the dream alive that we could have two women’s teams playing at London 2012.”
The result means the British team go through to the very last stage of the eight-nation Continental Cup competition in Moscow in mid-June. The winner of that qualifies a place for a pair at 2012, with the second and third teams going through to contest the 10-team World Cup Olympic Qualification event in Sardinia at the end of June. The top two countries at that competition also qualify places for London 2012.
Jessica Whittington, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine
Image credit: FIVB – Federation of International Volleyball