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14 August 2011 | in Beach Volleyball, Summer Universiade

2011 SU Update: Beach Volleyball a Hit in Universiade Debut

 

SHENZHEN - When the Summer University Games came to Shenzhen, Dameisha Beach didn’t just become the home of the beach volleyball competition; it became home to a piece of Universiade history.

The 2011 edition of the Summer Universiade is the first to include beach volleyball in the competition. And at the picturesque beachfront venue, the athletes couldn’t be more excited

“It’s awesome,” said Canadian Becky Billings. “They’ve done an amazing job with the venue, it’s great to be able to play people our own age from all over the world and just to see what the competition’s all about.”  

Beach volleyball has been a part of the Olympic Games sinceAtlantawas the host in 1996, and now that it’s also available at the Olympics’ university-level counterpart, the thrill of a multi-sport event experience is available to student athletes.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Billings. “The opening ceremonies blew me away. China just went so all-out. And it’s really cool to be able to see our friends play different sports. It’s so much fun, the whole experience is amazing; it’s something I’ll always remember for sure.”

Having beach volleyball in the Games also provides a rare opportunity for the top players in the sport to gather in one spot.

The 2011 Universiade has brought together 32 teams on both the men’s and women’s side, giving a total of 128 student athletes a shot at the gold. And according to Canadian Kristina Vleck, the level of competition has not disappointed.

“It’s been really good,” she said of the caliber of volleyball at the event. “A lot of FIVB [International Volleyball Federation] teams from the world circuit are here, there’s some younger up and comers here and just a lot of people with a lot of talent. It’s a really challenging field.”

The Dameisha Beach venue has provided a fitting home to such a convergence of talent. With its location, right on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by mountains and it’s eight-court playing area, that seats 2,100, the venue has impressed the athletes.

“It’s gorgeous. The venue is great and the location is beautiful,” saidBillings. “We’re just so happy that we get to be here.”

 And the athletes aren’t the only ones excited.

The main court has been home to enthusiastic crowds, who have enjoyed not only world-class volleyball, but also the breathtaking views and between-game shows put on by cheerleaders and the Universiade mascot UU.

“It is very fun, very exciting,” said Candy, a Shenzhen volunteer. “Shenzhen is a beautiful city and I’m glad lots of people can see it [at the beach volleyball venue].”

The Olympic-style experience and breathtaking views of the stadium aside, the athletes know that having beach volleyball in an event like the Universiade will do wonders for their growing sport.   

“[Beach volleyball] is definitely growing and having it as a part ofFISUand in the Olympics for a while now, it’ll definitely add a lot of awareness,” said Vleck. “People will be able to get into the sport a lot easier and have something to shoot for.”

The competition’s preliminary round is currently under way, with the men’s gold medal game set for Aug. 18 and the women’s for Aug. 19. 

 

(Source: Justin Fauteux, FISU Young Reporter/CAN)

 

 

The Czech Republic squares off against China at the Dameisha Beach Volleyball venue