Playing Beach Volleyball, at Copacabana Beach, in Rio at the Olympic Games for Australia was an incredible experience. I don’t think many people will disagree that it was one of, if not, the top sports in Rio. The way in which the arena was built, the setting, the crowd involvement at the games made it feel like one big party. The energy pumping through the arena was intense and made it all the more fun playing. I will never forget walking in to that stadium which at midnight was packed with fans yelling and screaming and music blaring. You can be prepared all you want but playing at midnight was tough on both the body and the mind.
Even though the first night was on a whole new level I’m really glad we got to visit the stadium prior to get a feel for it. It did help when the adrenaline was pumping and the nerves began that I’d seen the surroundings before. I thought we both controlled our emotions really well and didn’t freak out which was a big plus. Hearing my name being called out to the stadium for the very first time at an Olympics Games was special. I had to try and slow myself down a little after I’d run out. A feeling I’d never quite come to experience.
Despite our result in Rio, I learnt so much about what it takes to be at the top. I know one thing for sure is that I’m hungry and ready to take the next step to where I want to be as an athlete. Rio was a learning experience; I couldn’t have taken more out of it. I learnt that I have to back myself in 110%, especially in the pressure situations where you just need to go for it and not half arse it. At times I was doubting myself which led me to not be as aggressive thus letting myself and team down. At The Olympic Games level, you can’t miss those opportunities. I realised quickly that the winners never hold back.
I didn’t have to look very far for inspiration while at the games. During my preparation I’d come across Laura Ludwig, German Beach Volleyball Rio Gold medallist, and I could tell how hard she had been working both mentally and physically for Rio. You could see the determination to win Gold written all over her face. It was so impressive. I learnt that you must be willing to make big sacrifices. I also can’t go past three-time Olympic Gold Medallist and now Rio Bronze medallist, Kerri Walsh. Prior to the games she had shoulder surgery and had to make her way back in through qualifiers. Amazing!
One of my highlights after I had finished up in the tournament was meeting Usain Bolt, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant. It’s not an everyday occurrence. I thought they were going to be way to cool for someone like me but were super nice guys. I was like a little girl asking for a photo and they were great about it. Being surrounded by the worlds best athletes is something I’ll never forget and definitely want to do again.
I’ve just returned home after an epic break which was much needed after 4 years of blood, sweat and tears. I really tried to make the most of it. I went back to South America as I’m originally from Peru. I then went for two weeks to see my sister in Chile. I’m now ready for the pre-season which we have just begun. We are all working out together at the moment but teams are yet to be named. Right now it’s six days a week of training, 2-3 sessions a day. It’s all about our strength and conditioning at the moment with ball work coming in to play later on. I’m super excited for Beach Volleyball to be a sport at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018. It’s the first time and what a place to get it started. It gives me a great half goal to work with towards Tokyo 2020.
Rio has taught me what it takes to be at the top of your game. I’m ready to take that next step.
AUS Beach Volleyball player | Rio2016 Olympian | Australian Champion 2015 & 2016 | U23 World Champion | Peruana/Australiana