The long winter hours spent practising on Portobello sands have paid off for Scottish beach volleyball pair Lynne Beattie and Melissa Coutts, who have secured one of the 12 coveted places at next year’s Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast.
The pair faced an uphill struggle in terms of securing funding and finding suitable training facilities but they have pulled off an unlikely triumph.
Beach volleyball is featuring at the Commonwealth Games for the first time and, with just a dozen teams taking part, it has been an anxious time for Beattie and Coutts to see if they could qualify for the jamboree in Australia.
It’s not easy being a beach volleyballer in Scotland, particularly in the winter when the icy wind blowing off the sea makes Gold Coast seem like a distant dream. But the Edinburgh-based pair persevered.
They began the year with a personal best ninth-place on the World Tour in Sydney in March, then took gold on home sand at the European Zonal Event held on Portobello Beach in May before topping their season with another personal best – a fifth place finish at the World Tour event in Agadir, Morocco in July.
However, a disappointing third place at the crucial Gold Coast 2018 European qualifying event in Cyprus in September led to a nervous wait to see if they would earn a wild card place at the Games.
Beattie, who turns 32 tommorrow, has big Games experience having captained Team GB’s indoor volleyball team to ninth place at London 2012 – the first time Britain had had a volleyball team at an Olympic Games. She is now a regional development officer for the Scottish Volleyball Association and said: “It is amazing to hear the news that we have qualified for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. We have had a long wait, but we trusted in the hard work we had put in, on and off the court, and now it has been absolutely worth it to be confirmed as the first ever women’s team to be selected to represent Team Scotland in Beach Volleyball.
“To get this opportunity is a huge reward for us, our team and our sport but we are not just satisfied with qualification, we want to be the best we can possibly be when we get to the Gold Coast and now we can look forward to our preparations for that.”
Coutts, 47, was part of the first Scottish team to play and win on the World Tour, making the main draw in the Acapulco FIVB event back in 1998. She also played on the professional tour in Mexico in 1999 and is a three time British Champion.
She said: “Being part of Team Scotland and competing at the Games means the world to me and will be the pinnacle of many years of hard work. Waiting for the decision was difficult but I was always confident that the right decision would be made and that the best team would be chosen.
“Myself, Lynne Beattie, and the rest of our amazing team will do everything we can to make Scotland proud in the Gold Coast.”
For Beattie and Coutts, the competition will take place next April at the stunning beachfront at Coolangatta, where the duo will now join their male counterparts Seain Cook and Robin Miedzybrodzki.
Ann Fleming, chief executive of Scottish Volleyball, said: “We are absolutely delighted that our women’s pair have now also been confirmed for the inaugural Beach Volleyball competition at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, providing a fantastic opportunity for this performance sport to be showcased. It is testament to all the hard work of the athletes and the sport as a whole that Scotland will be represented in both men’s and women’s competitions.”
Team Scotland chef de mission Jon Doig said: “Congratulations to Lynne and Melissa on their selection. It has been an anxious wait for the pair to see if Scotland would be offered one of the 12 women’s places and I am delighted this has now been fully confirmed.”