Beach volleyballers keen for Olympic fast-track

Taliqua Clancy and her playing partner Mariafe Artacho Del Solar are a force to be reckoned with on the world tour. Photo provided by Volleyball Australia.

Nearly every week for the next 54-weeks, beach volleyballers Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar will be travelling the world. They’ll see some of the most beautiful spots on the planet as they chase the summer and the next Olympics’ qualifying event.

Even though they’ll only get a few days at a time, they’ll spend thousands of dollars returning home between events to see family.

They’ve reached the pinnacle of their sport in Australia and to make it to the top of the world, they must win a medal at nearly every competition until June next year—one month before the Olympics—to be classed as serious contenders for a medal at Tokyo 2020.

Clancy made this decision to return home between events after Rio 2016. She finished 5th alongside then partner Louise Bawden. The defeat to the Americans was difficult to process and Clancy didn’t bounce back as strong as she wished.

“In 2017, it was difficult, I did lose a little bit of motivation,” Clancy said.

“And I had to make so many changes in my life. It was definitely one of the toughest years I’ve had.”

She realised that she needed to make some changes. The first was increasing the amount of time she had with her inner-circles. The people she could trust and lifted her up.

“There’s definitely a lot more positive energy. It’s really great.”

Last year her playing partner Louise Bawden retired, which lead to the new pairing of Clancy and Artacho del Solar. And it has been a match-up worthy of headlines.

They won the Asian Championships in 2018 and 2019 (last month). They’re now getting ready for the World Championships at the end of June.

Remember that huge qualifying period they’re in? Well there’s a way that Clancy and del Solar can destress over the next 12-months.

Winning the World Championships is an automatic ticket to the Olympics. And it cannot be understated how important reaching the Olympics is to both athletes, but particularly Clancy.

The pain of losing in the quarterfinals at Rio is evident in Clancy’s voice, as is a deep urge to succeed.

“I’ve had one Olympic series and I definitely don’t want to come back out without a medal again.”

The World Championships in Hamburg is a chance for the pairing to show the world they’re ready for an Olympic medal.

By Keiran Deck

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