July 9, 2019
Kingaroy beach volleyball champion Taliqua Clancy and her partner Mariafe Artacho del Solar are celebrating winning bronze at the World Championships in Germany – the first medal Australians have won in the competition for 16 years.
The finals of the Beach Volleyball World Championships were played in Hamburg on Sunday.
They downed Swiss rivals Tanja Hüberli and Nina Betschart 21-18, 22-20 in their match at the Red Bull Beach Arena in Rothenbaum Stadium, bouncing back from a semi-final loss to Americans April Ross and Alix Klineman the night before.
The win is Australia’s first medal in the competition since 2003, when Natalie Cook and Nicole Sanderson also won bronze.
A gold medal would have guaranteed the pair automatic qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but the bronze confirms their position as among the best beach volleyballers in the world.
Clancy and her former on-court partner Louise Bawden only narrowly missed out on a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Clancy, 27, grew up and was educated in Kingaroy.
Apart from the bronze medal, Taliqua won four other honourable mentions at the world championships.
She was the best scorer of the tournament, putting the ball in the sand 172 times. Switzerland’s Tanja Hüberli was second, with 167, and recently crowned world champion Melissa Humana-Paredes of Canada ranked third with 164.
Taliqua was also the most effective player from the service line, scoring 26 aces during her eight games, including three in the bronze medal match. The next two top-ranked servers were the USA’s Alix Klineman (21) and Melissa Humana-Paredes (19).
Finally, Taliqua’s 184cm height worked to her advantage, allowing her to score the highest block of the event (3.03m) and also the highest spike (3.02m).
She beat Klineman (3.02m) and Germany’s Maggie Kozuch (3m) in the first category, and Canada’s Sarah Pavan (3.01m) and Klineman (2.99m) in the second.