Going for the Gold Coast
14th September 2017
England's beach volleyball women could make a dream come true by tomorrow night by reaching the Commonwealth Games.
Jess Grimson and Vicky Palmer are playing a European Qualification tournament in Cyprus, with automatic qualification to next year's Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, for the victors. With the vital tournament just hours away, Jess spoke to Volleyball England and says the pair are ready for action.
"We’re nervous with what is on the line but we have done all the hard work and preparation, so we have done all we can do," she said. "We're feeling good. It’s now about doing it on the court."
The country's number one pair kick off their campaign today at 2.50pm (GMT) against hosts Cyprus in a four-way tournament which will see the pair also face home nations Wales and Scotland. Each team will play each other in a round robin group stage. The team that tops the group will progress to Saturday's final, while the 2nd and 3rd place countries will contest a semi-final for the right to play in a straight shoot out for the place at the Commonwealth Games. Grimson and Palmer go into the tournament as the number one seed so have a great chance of qualification.
"As top seeds, we are the team to beat in theory, but we know that in this situation anyone can produce a big performance," said Jess. "We don’t know much about Wales. Scotland, we have played a few times in the last few years and have not lost. I think Cyprus will be our toughest game. They have home advantage. We played them two years ago and lost, but we know that both teams are now better than they were then. Our coach has done a lot of analysis so we’re as prepared as we can be, we’ve just got to remember it out on court."
While Cyprus will have the partisan crowd, the England pair know they have a huge band of well-wishers willing them to glory. "We know there are a lot of people at home backing us, so we feel well supported," said Jess.
Keep up to date with the girls' progress on the VE website and social media.
England's match schedule
2.50pm (GMT) England vs. Cyprus
5.20pm (GMT) England vs. Wales
1.30pm (GMT) England vs. Scotland
4.40pm (GMT) Potential Semi-final 2nd vs. 3rd
7.00pm (GMT) Potential FINAL
If Grimson and Palmer manage to reach the Gold Coast this weekend it would be a career highlight. The pair are self-funded and work full-time while pursuing their volleyball dream. When we profiled them in our On The Beach series, Vicky explained what it would mean to them to make it to the 2018 Commonwealth Games. “It would just make all the sacrifices worthwhile,” explained Vicky. “The long days, the training, the travelling, the near bankruptcy! We’ve had a few negative comments thrown our way in the past but they just drive us on even more.”
It's not a case of win or bust for the pair, as if they are not champions come Saturday night, they can still qualify through their ranking points or even a wild card entry. That could mean a nervous wait over next few months, so Jess and Vicky will look to realise their ambition with their fate in their own hands.