Shauna Mullin will not feel the sun on her back as much in 2013 but it does not mean she does is not striving for new horizons.
The former Mary Erskine pupil achieved a lifetime ambition when she played at London 2012 as beach volleyball drew huge crowds to Horse Guards Parade. Mullin and English partner Zara Dampney relished their moment as they came close to reaching the last 16.
But last month Mullin revealed she would not be heading for the Copa Cabana Beach for Rio 2016 and had split with Dampney to explore pastures new. Now working in central London in business development and marketing, she is getting accustomed to the “9-5” lifestyle.
Still playing indoors for top English side London Malory, she runs 5k every day to keep herself in shape but is happy not to be involved in the gruelling endurance training that winter brings before the beach season opens.
Mullin has plenty to keep her occupied. As well as launching a new fitness website with Dampney (www.volleybody.co.uk), she is planning to return to Edinburgh on June 7 to take part in a Rugby Sevens and Beach Volleyball festival at Meggetland. It will feature a British Invitation Masters Beach event which Mullin will be involved in along with the top British players in a tailor-made arena with 500 seats.
“I’m really looking forward to the weekend,” she said, “I think the two sports attract similar types of spectators and there will be a real party atmosphere.”
Mullin admits it was a hard decision giving up top-level international competition but the fact she would have to commit to another four-year cycle made it an easier choice.
“I went to university and got my first masters in management and business law and then got my second in marketing. The commitment of going on for another four years would limit what I am able to do with that,” the 28 year-old continued.
“It was a tough decision and took me a long time after a lot of discussions with a range of different people. I wanted to see different perspectives but ultimately, I’m happy with my decision.”
UK Sport have made a commitment to support the GB beach programme through to Rio but will not back the indoor game, leaving a huge question mark over whether British teams will continue to operate at international level.
Many in British volleyball feel let down by the decision, particularly after both the GB men and women had shown they could compete at the highest level in London last summer.
“It’s absolutely horrendous,” Mullin stated. “It’s a shame for the players who worked so hard and just not to get recognition for what they have put in over the years doesn’t seem right.
“I know a lot of the girls in the indoor team and for them not to be given that opportunity is heartbreaking. UK Sport said they wanted to leave a legacy for the sport and I don’t think that message has been followed through.
“There’s no way you are going to get medals without investing in development and volleyball is missing out. It is the so-called minority sports that need the grassroots funding and possibly a different funding stream should have been set up.
“You are not going to get the results in Rio, you would get them 10-12 years down the line.”
“We have really great people involved in the sport who are fighting a battle to get recognition but there is no strategy and casebook to say this is what we need to be in this place in 10-12 years. That is how long it takes to develop a culture around a sport to be able to harbour great players.
“We have two talented players just now at Malory who play for England and they’re off to the States on four-year scholarships. That’s where we lose our players. If there is nothing here for them to come back to in four years’ time then they will go abroad. We’re losing all our talent to other countries which is then stopping the development of young players here. You need to have role models.
“I remember playing at Queensferry [for City of Edinburgh] and the reason we developed so quickly was that we had a high calibre of players around us on a weekly basis. It motivates you to get better and you improve at a much faster rate.”
Whatever the future holds for Mullin, she will always have London 2012 and deep down she realises that such an experience will not be bettered.
“I have two memories that stand out from London 2012. The first is standing in the tunnel before our first match with Canada and just not expecting that many people to make that much noise.
“We weren’t big personalities going into the Games but we had fantastic support from the crowd. Running into that stadium and seeing the crowd erupt will stay with me for the rest of my life.
“The other great memory was being part of Team GB going into the Olympic stadium for the Opening Ceremony, that was phenomenal as well. We didn’t really get to see much of the show as we were winding our way into the stadium but it was so great to be part of it.
“I also managed to get to the Closing Ceremony but that had a bit of a sad feel to it because it was all over. It really was such a great two weeks, in all aspects. Even when we were knocked out of the tournament, we had the chance to take in other events.”