TRIPLE OLYMPIAN EYING OFF MORE TIME IN GREEN AND GOLD
After three Olympics spread over 16 years and involving two different sports, one might expect Australian beach volleyballer Louise Bawden might be happy to put her feet up for a while.
But only people who don't know Bawden would assume that would even cross her mind. You don’t get to three Olympics without focus and determination, and Adelaide-based Bawden has both in spades.
And she had another very good excuse for sitting out for a while. Her Rio Olympic partner, Taliqua Clancy, is out of action with injury.
But this weekend 35-year-old Bawden will begin her quest to be part of next year’s beach volleyball debut at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, and a possible fourth Olympics, by contesting the SA Open on what is now her home beach, Glenelg.
To kick off her campaign, she’ll be teaming up with fellow Rio Olympian, Nikki Laird, forming what looks, on paper, to be a formidable combination.
But longer term Bawden is excited about what she and Clancy can achieve, after finishing fifth in Rio.
“The beach volleyball world moves pretty quickly, so we had to look forward quite soon after Rio,” Bawden said.
“Amongst other things, our plans currently include World Championships in Vienna in July and seeking gold at the Commonwealth Games in April 2018.
“The Gold Coast 2018 is a really special opportunity to represent Australia on home soil. I am proud of our country and our beautiful beaches, and I will be doing everything I can to bring home the gold for Australia at the Commonwealth Games.”
And as if 2017 is not looking busy enough, Bawden and long-term partner, fellow beach volleyballer Casey Grice, are planning to marry later this year - probably between major international tournaments.
This weekend’s SA Open will be a tough test for Bawden and Laird. Bawden’s 2012 London partner, Becchara Palmer, will be playing with rising star, Phoebe Bell, while Laird’s Rio partner, Mariafe Artacho del Solar, is playing with Thailand’s Yupa Phokongploy.
Adding further intrigue to the women’s draw will be the appearance of Europe’s Michaela Vorlova and Lucia Michalovicova, Australian squad member Sarah Battaglene and Youth Olympic Games representative, Brittany Kendall, and NSW Open winner Christie Jenkins, playing in Adelaide with Katie Bartoli.
The men’s competition will see the first appearance this season of Damien Schumann and Josh Court, who won every domestic title last summer.
The SA Open will be played over Saturday and Sunday at Glenelg Beach.