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Volleyballers Are On Track


Comvita Women's Beach Volleyballers Are On Track For Another Good Year

The Comvita Women's Beach Volleyball team of Lucy Todd and Susan Blundell are on track for success in 2003 after an impressive first year together on the New Zealand and international circuit.

This year saw them winning the last two AA tournaments in Auckland and Tauranga and becoming the Oceania champions. They also secured a creditable sixth placing at the Asian Championship tournament. This was the highlight of a stimulating but exhaustive overseas tour that saw them compete in tournaments on four continents.

"We're now ready to take on the major New Zealand tour AAA events in the new year in New Plymouth, Whakatane, Mt Maunganui, Waiheke Is and the NZ Open in Auckland," says Todd.

"These major AAA events are also attended by top international teams and we are on track to give them a good run for their money. "

This local and overseas experience has them in good form for the year ahead, particularly with 2003 being the first year the World Series results count towards 2004 Olympic qualification.

Todd says securing Comvita New Zealand as a major sponsor has given them the exposure to the elite international competition they so badly need if they're to foot it with the world's best.

"While the standard of competition is getting higher in New Zealand, nothing compares to international competition," she says.

"There are some good players in New Zealand, but it's the international competition we really need. We couldn't get it without Comvita's sponsorship."

New Zealand tournaments have the pair playing six games a day, and on tour internationally, up to three games a day. This, combined with a punishing training regime that sees them on the beach and in the gym most days, has them at peak performance.

National beach volleyball coach Mike Dudson predicts his charges are going places.

"Placing sixth in Asia shows they're up there with some of the best," says Dudson. "They're developing a formidable partnership to compete internationally."

It's appropriate that the Bay of Plenty is 'home turf' for the women. Blundell says the BOP is well known for its beach volleyball as it holds a quite a number of AA and AAA tournaments.

"It's great for us being locals too as it means we have the home-ground advantage," she says. "We always receive wonderful support here."

Being their own managers also adds to Todd and Blundell's workload. They organise their own schedules, video analysis of games, sponsors and media, and hold coaching clinics and coaching programmes in schools.

While their 2003 international calendar has not yet been finalised, the two plan to head off to Europe in May, followed by several tournaments in Asia and the US before hopefully qualifying for the end-of-year world championships in Brazil.

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