Volleyball: Life's not quite a beach for Mullin

While her former City of Edinburgh volleyball team-mates are in cold storage, Shauna Mullin has not had to dig out the snow boots.

With the entire Schelde Sports Scottish League indoor programme cancelled last weekend, Mullin was soaking up the sun in Broadbeach on Australia's Gold Coast.

But it has been no holiday for the player and English partner Zara Dampney as they face the most important year of their career.

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There is only one automatic place as hosts for a Great Britain team at the London Olympics in 2012 and Mullin and Dampney are trailing in the rankings to Denise Johns and Lucy Boulton.

If Mullin and Dampney do not qualify as Great Britain's No.?1 pairing, then they will need to go down the more difficult route of making it on world ranking. Both pairs are in the middle of a pre-season training block under head coach Matt Grinlaubs and the rivalry is intense.

"As a programme we felt we needed to grab all the time we could to be ready for Olympic Qualification, which starts with the first event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in April next year," Mullin stated.

"As a sport, Volleyball and Beach Volleyball have been in the firing line recently, with funding cuts made in both disciplines.

"When these funding cuts were announced we were grateful we had the trust and support of the British Volleyball Federation to continue on our journey, both as individual teams and as a programme. It was a blow to have the men's side of the Beach Programme cut, as we were quite a small group and having their support while on tour had a great impact.

"The cuts of the men's beach and women's indoor programmes just fuels our frustration that volleyball is still seen as a minority sport."

The GB squad's training is split between Sand Storm in Brisbane, which is the Australian beach volleyball training facility, the gym at the Queensland Academy of Sport's (QAS) and playing on the local beach.

"A typical week consists of nine sand sessions, three weights sessions, three cardio sessions and four body control sessions," Mullin continued.

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"During the first week our bodies were in a lot of pain. The consistent appearance of single leg exercises in our gym programme only added to that pain!

"We didn't walk normally all week and stairs, both and up down, were avoided at all costs."

"Our bodies were in a lot of pain. We didn't walk normally all week and stairs were avoided at all costs" shauna mullin