ZARA Dampney has targeted an Olympic return in Rio 2016 after her London 2012 experience.
The Poole beach volleyball star and team-mate Shauna Mullin crashed out of the Games last week after one win from four matches in the women’s tournament, but more than held their own against some of the world’s best players.
The sport's outing in Westminster’s Horse Guards Parade has raised its profile in this country to a new level, and hopes are high that 2012 will prove a watershed for beach volleyball in this country.
A host-nation berth will obviously not be the preserve of the British in Brazil in four years’ time, so to taste the Olympics again Dampney and Mullin will have to qualify on merit.
That effectively means the Brits will have to crack the world’s top 16 between now and the summer of 2016.
Asked if Rio was a realistic target, former Parkstone Grammar girl Dampney said: “Yes. We need to talk to our coaches a lot and we don’t know how it’s going to work out in terms of funding.
“I think we need to regroup, clear our minds and see how we’re going to go forward.”
The duo believe Team GB’s ‘Super Saturday’ - when six gold medals were won by the host nation in athletics, cycling and rowing - is testament to what can be achieved with the right organisation, and hopes the lessons can be applied to British beach volleyball in the years ahead.
“You need to be nurtured, everything needs to be under control, you need structure in terms of all the different elements that go together, it’s not just our technical training, everything has to work together,” added Dampney.
“Rowing and athletics have had years and years of history, they have people involved in the sport that have been involved for so long – they’ve been to so many Olympics - that they can pass down their experience to the athletes.
“Beach volleyball obviously doesn’t have that history and it does not have the expertise that we need to get those medals, so I guess that's the next step so we can go to the next level.”