Dampney and Mullin call for London show

NEW ERA: Shauna Mullin, left, and Zara Dampney

NEW ERA: Shauna Mullin, left, and Zara Dampney

First published in Other sport by

POOLE’S Zara Dampney and Shauna Mullin hope the Olympics represent a new era for British beach volleyball, insisting Lon-don should host an annual event.

Fans have turned out in their droves at Horse Guards Parade to partake in a carnival atmosphere that includes loud music, mid-match dancing and top-class sporting action.

The mood was not even subdued by the exit of British pair Mullin and Dampney in the lucky loser round.

That encounter came about as, having finished third in Pool F, they were given another chance to move into the next phase.

The pair were subsequently beaten in straight sets by Austrian sisters Stefanie and Doris Schwaiger, but have seen enough to believe the sport can grow in Britain.

“There are a lot of (Swatch) World Tour events that go all around the world and most of them are in city centres like this,” said Dampney.

“I think the public would really enjoy having one here every year. Hopefully the Olympics can be the start of bigger and better things.”

Mullin added: “There are a lot of people who are interested in it and we just need to get a sponsor to take it on.

“The players love London and want to come here – they always ask us when there is going to be an event here. It would be great for the sport and great for us too.”

The duo made their maiden Olympic appearance this summer – though that is not the only first they have experienced.

Indeed, Dampney was surprised recently to be recognised by someone on the back of her efforts.

“We are always in our kits, so it is difficult to disguise who we are,” she said. “But the other day I was recognised without being in it.

“That is the first time that has happened and I was quite surprised.”

Even if this proves their last taste of playing in front of a raucous home crowd, they can leave with memories that will not be forgotten in a hurry.

Mullin said: “The atmosphere has been just unbelievable. You think it is loud when they cheer the opposition, but the difference when you are British is incredible.

“The support we have had has been really humbling.”

The high point came when the duo combined to beat Canada’s Marie-Andree Lessard and Annie Martin.

Speaking about their efforts overall, Mullin added: “We have just been inconsistent – when we play well, we play really well. It is just trying to get that consistency.

“But we won a match at a home Olympics and right now we are still thinking of that.

“What we have done and what we have achieved here will not come out until we are able to sit back and look back on it.”

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