Kingaroy’s Taliqua Clancy won a gold medal as part of the victorious Australian beach volleyball team at the recent AVC Continental Cup in China.
Kingaroy’s Taliqua Clancy won a gold medal as part of the victorious Australian beach volleyball team at the recent AVC Continental Cup in China. Contributed

Focus on Rio

TALIQUA Clancy had never felt so nervous in her life.

The 20-year-old from Kingaroy was proudly representing her country in a high stakes, high pressure beach volleyball international against China.

The Australian representative was playing an important role helping former Olympians Natalie Cook and Tamsin Hinchley qualify for the upcoming London Olympics.

Clancy and her partner, Mariafe Artacho, were the opening pair to play the Chinese team in the women's final of last week's Oceania Zone AVC Continental Cup held in Fuzhou, China.

The Australian team had taken on Asia's finest female beach volleyballers, having beaten Chinese Taipei in the quarter finals and Thailand in the semi-finals to qualify for the final against hosts China.

The final was a best of four match format with the winners booking their nation a spot at the London Olympics.

Clancy and Artacho won the first rubber with a close 21-19, 21-19 victory which helped Australia to a valuable winning start.

The current AIS member was relieved to win the opening match for her nation.

"It was probably the most nerve-wracking pressure event I've ever played," she said.

"Knowing it was to seal a spot in the Olympics, I'd never been so nervous in my life.

"My partner and I were ecstatic as we knew we were able to do our job and win the game."

Team-mates Natalie Cook and Tamsin Hinchley won their next two matches to clinch their spot at London. Clancy was rewarded with a tournament gold medal after helping Australia to become Continental Cup winners.

The former Kingaroy State High School student was proud of the role she played.

"It was a privilege to play such a big role," she said.

"It meant a lot as moments like these are the reason you play sport, just being on the podium and hearing your national anthem."

After helping the Cook/Hinchley combo qualify for the Games, Clancy was confident of their medal chances in London.

"They're both top three contenders because it's the Olympics and anything can happen," she said.

"It's important for the future of beach volleyball in Australia for them to qualify and to have played a role is important."

Clancy relocated to Adelaide in 2009 after receiving a beach volleyball scholarship from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).

She has since played professionally in Finland and the Netherlands and was a bronze medallist at the Under 19 World Beach Volleyball Championships in 2010.

After helping her nation qualify for an event at London, the blocker holds her own burning Olympic ambition.

"I've found my role with the Australian team is a motivation to go to Rio," she said.

"All the training you do, you play for those big moments and I want to play in my own Olympics,"

"By 2016 I want to make sure I'm in the top 16 in the world and clinch my spot in Rio."

South Burnett

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