Commonwealth Games 2018: Gold medal at the beach for Australian men
A couple of Aussie blokes have grabbed their moment in the sun over one of Australia’s most famous beaches to demand a fairer crack for the sport that has now made them famous.
With the waves at the Coolangatta beachfront lapping loudly nearby, rivals turned mates Damien Schumann and Chris McHugh claimed an epic Commonwealth Games gold medal against more highly world-ranked Canadian pair Sam Pedlow and Sam Schachter.
Schumann leapt up into McHugh’s long arms to celebrate a blockbuster three-set triumph, 21-19 18-21 18-16, that left the Canadians wallowing in the sand, the packed grandstands roaring with delight and his partner wincing through pleasure and pain.
“He kneed me in the nuts real hard, but I didn’t care,” McHugh laughed.
He then took his chance after the prime-time win, that even broke into the local Channel 7 news coverage, to herald the sport’s virtues.
“It’s hard to see how it’s not synonymous with Australia,” McHugh said.
“We have the best beaches in Australia, it’s a great sport and people can really get around it.
“If you had a look around anytime this week, the kids were loving it and jumping up and down in the stands and going nuts.
“It’s a real family sport and hopefully this propels the sport forward in Australia. If you didn’t have the goosebumps tonight, you’re not alive.”
A strategy for McHugh to spike at times during the match on only the second touch proved masterful and his blocking at crucial moments was also sublime. He saved a gold medal point for the Canadians with the brave decision to let a Pedlow serve go just long and he then blocked a spike to earn Australia their first of two gold medal points.
The result then emerged when Pedlow batted another serve long and then struck a pressure spike into the net. Injury to their respective previous partners had brought the Australians together for a golden moment almost too intense to bear.
“I thought my heart was going to explode … I blacked out,” Schumann said.
“There’s no fun for the four guys on court when it’s in those last few points. Your eyes go a JU little bit wider and the heart is going a little bit faster.
“If we were going to lose, we were going down swinging. We just scrapped and fought in the true Aussie way.”
Schumann said a major goal now was to help Australia get a team into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and a possible berth for the sport at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
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