Two teams of strong beach volleyballers have been selected for the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
The New Zealand Olympic Committee has named New Plymouth locals Keegan Joe (17 years, Spotswood College) and David Jeffrey (18 years) to the men’s team to contest the Games.
Maya Dickson (17 years, New Plymouth Girls’ High School) and Tamara Otene (16 years, Westlake Girls High School) have been named to the women’s team.
Above: Tamara Otene - photo credit Roy Meuronen Photography
The women’s team was selected after Dickson and Otene won the Oceania U19 Beach Championships in Canberra in March.
Since then they’ve both competed separately for New Zealand. For Dickson this was at the U19 Beach Volleyball World Championships in China in July where she finished 17th equal.
Otene competed at the Asian U19 Indoor Volleyball Championships, where she was the leading point scorer for New Zealand as they won six of seven matches to finish 9th.
Dickson is looking forward to facing the best young beach volleyballers in the world when competition begins in October.
“I love that beach volleyball is a game of both physical and mental strength. In order to win you and your partner have to demonstrate both of these attributes to a very high level,” said Dickson.
The men’s team qualified after placing second in the Oceania U19 Beach Championships. They then competed in separate teams at the U19 Beach Volleyball World Championships in China, where Joe placed 17th equal and Jeffrey 37th equal.
Above: David Jeffrey competing
Joe, who represented New Zealand last year at the Commonwealth Youth Games, is looking forward to the challenge presented by the Youth Olympic Games.
“I’m really excited to compete and thrilled to get the opportunity to go over there,” said Joe.
“I’m hoping to learn a lot from the other teams and I’m sure I’ll come out of the experience having made some friends and hopefully as a better volleyballer.”
The 2018 Youth Olympic Games will be the third summer youth Games, following those in Singapore in 2010 and Nanjing in 2014. The Games are a pre-elite development opportunity for the world's most promising young athletes, allowing them to experience a multi-sport games environment while exposing them to learning and cultural opportunities and helping them on the performance pathway.
New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith passed on her congratulations to the athletes.
“Well done to these four athletes for all the work they’ve put in to gain selection,” said Smith.
“We saw that New Zealand beach volleyballers can hack it against the best the world has to offer when Sam and Ben O’Dea won bronze at this year’s Commonwealth Games. I wish these young athletes the best as they strive to add to that success in October.”
The Youth Olympic Games will run from October 6-18th in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Ryan Gunn has been conditionally selected as a non-travelling reserve for the men’s team and Katie Sadlier has been selected as a non travelling reserve for the women’s team.