Clinical Clancy and Bawden flex muscles on Copacabana Beach


BAWDEN AND CLANCY TURN THE SCREWS ON VENEZUELA

After four years of beach volleyball together and living in each other’s pocket, Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy have got this couples thing going pretty well.

Their contrasting personalities – Clancy the nonchalant tearaway from country Queensland, Bawden the no-nonsense steady hand on the wheel – have tormented teams the world over, and have left two teams buried in the Copacabana sand already this week.

Bawden and Clancy have become much more ruthless, and much more clinical since joining up after the London Olympics.

That mean streak was on full display on Monday night, when they dismissed an inexperienced pair from Venezuela 21-9, 21-14.

The Australian girls have barely broken a sweat so far, easily disposing of Costa Rico in their opening match, again barely spending enough time on the court to allow their sunscreen to take full effect.

It’s not been gruelling for the pair by any stretch. On the World Tour they usually play two matches a day; so far in Rio it’s been two matches over three days.

The big test comes on Wednesday, when they take on the formidable Dutch pairing of Meppelink and Van Iersel.

Would they have liked tougher work outs in the lead-up to the Dutch clash?

“I know it sounds like a bit of a cliché, but it really is just all about us,” Bawden said with her typical steely resolve.

“It doesn’t feel that significant, because the way I’m measuring our performance when I step off the court is not about what they did to us, it’s about what we did when we were in control of the ball, and the way we played together, the way we moved together, the way we connected, and the way we worked out our strategy.”

Also pleasing is the way 24-year-old Clancy has settled in to the whiplash atmosphere of a first Olympic Games, guided along the way by Bawden at her third Olympics.

“I always knew she would be great,” Bawden said.

“We’ve always made a point of really enjoying the centre court atmosphere, so whenever we’ve been there we’ve really relished it, and it feels no different now.

“Of course there’s some anticipation and nerves, but we stick together and take all the best parts of it, and it makes it great fun.”

For her part Clancy is soaking up every minute.

“I’m loving it so far,” she said.

“Lou and I have had this in our mind ever since we joined together as a team, so I feel really positive about the way we have grown our game.

“It’s exactly like I thought it would be. This was our first night match and it was absolutely amazing. The crowd was even more into it, the stands are getting more filled as every day goes on, so it’s really special.”

Monday’s win locks away progression to the next round, and puts them top of their pool.