Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Life's a Beach for Volleyball Babe


She’s a Bournemouth beauty with the brains to match and this summer, GB beach volleyball star Zara Dampney is set to raise more temperatures on the court judging by her recent eye-catching form, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 24-year-old – with Scottish partner Shauna Mullen – recently placed 25th in the inaugural FIVB World Tour in Brazil and went onto to finish 17th in the Shanghai leg of the tour, before below-par performances in Rome, Moscow and Korea; but the well-travelled house-mates are in confident mood ahead of their first Grand Prix event in Norway next month.

“We’ve been training really hard and want to finish consistently among the top-25 teams in the World this year, with a few top-10’s like in 2009 to put ourselves in a good position for the World’s next year,” revealed the Morph Bowes-coached athlete.
Born in Poole and now based in Bath, Dampney and Mullen are hot prospects for glory in the fast-approaching London 2012 Olympics but face an even bigger challenge to promote their beloved sport on British shores.

Despite the glamorous, bikini-clad portrayal of beach volleyball, Brits tend not to follow and support the sport in a nation not exactly known for its’ humid temperatures and plethora of white sandy terrain. Nevertheless, Dampney is determined to change the sport’s image with her promising performances:

“The British public don’t seem to realise we’re professional athletes who are just as dedicated as others. Hopefully people will be more open after seeing us compete in 2012,” explained the Sheffield Law graduate, who also has a Master’s degree from Bath University.

Surprisingly, Dampney and Mullen have another battle on their hands in the unlikely form of persuading funding chiefs to build the UK’s only indoor beach court. Currently with only an outdoor court in Bath, the duo are reduced to almost permanently living abroad all over Europe during the winter months in order to gain access to adequate facilities.

“It’s crazy being away so much during the winter,” Dampney exclaims, “We’ve been away pretty much all the time since January then travel everywhere for the season for those five-months so we’re rarely home.”

Originally an international indoor volleyball player, Dampney –who with Mullen placed ninth in the 2009 World Tour in Norway – is no stranger to the high life, as her family home is none other than a grand Georgian manor in which the premises are rented out for outdoor pursuits and weddings.

Such lavish surroundings also boast a flock of peacocks but it is this Bournemouth babe who has the most breathtaking colours to her personality and skills on and off the beach.

- Dampney and Mullen are currently seeking a sponsor so if you feel you could help, please contact morph@britishvolleyball.org

No comments: