The New Zealand Olympic Committee has named a men’s and women’s beach volleyball pairing for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Alice Zeimann and Shaunna Polley have been named to the women’s team, with the relatively new pairing of Sam O’Dea and Brad Fuller named to the men’s.
Zeimann and Polley have been selected following successful international seasons with recent results including a first-place finish at the Cortegaca FIVB 1 Star in Portugal, and a fourth place finish at the 2021 Asian Championships.
Above: Shaunna Polley
Meanwhile O’Dea and Fuller gained selection as the number one ranked men’s side domestically. The pair teamed up prior to the 2021/22 domestic season and have already clocked up impressive results including first place at the 2022 Australian Tour Finals.
O’Dea won bronze with his brother Ben at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, where beach volleyball made its Commonwealth Games debut.
“The last Commonwealth Games were awesome,” said O’Dea.
“It was great to be a part of the wider team and to be in that environment and it’s great to be going back for another one. We’re stoked and we’re really driven, we want to win, we’re going there to perform and we can’t wait.”
Polley also competed at Gold Coast 2018, dipping out in the quarter-finals alongside partner Kelsie Wills.
“It means a lot to me to get another chance to represent New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games,” said Polley.
“I’m really looking forward to getting to Birmingham and showing what we’re capable of and hopefully we inspire some young Kiwis to get involved with beach volleyball as well.”
The pairings are both overseas, competing in Europe as they build up to the Commonwealth Games.
Volleyball NZ CEO Toni-Maree Carnie says they’re delighted to have the teams confirmed for the Games.
“It’s been a tough couple of years with no international competition so being able to finally get our teams back on the sand with some commendable results is what we have been working towards,” said Carnie.
“Seeing beach volleyball included for the second time at the Commonwealth Games is fantastic for the sport and it will only lead to its further growth and development in New Zealand.”
NZOC CEO Nicki Nicol extended her congratulations to the athletes.
“Well done to the four athletes named today, we’re thrilled to have you as part of the New Zealand Team,” said Nicol.
“It was fantastic to see our beach volleyball teams in action four years ago on the Gold Coast and we look forward to you adding to their legacy next month in Birmingham.”
Beach volleyball at Birmingham 2022 will be contested at the Smithfield Beach Volleyball Venue, with competition to begin on June 30th.
Ben O’Dea, Tom Reid and Olivia MacDonald have been named as reserves.
The naming takes the total number of athletes currently selected to the New Zealand Team for Birmingham 2022 to 99.