Espinho, Portugal, July 20, 2019 – There was a reshuffle in Australia’s main men’s pairs in the middle of 2018. Right after Damien Schumann won gold at the Commonwealth Games alongside Christopher McHugh, partners were switched and he teamed up with Cole Durant. Durant’s previous teammate, Zachery Schubert, aligned with McHugh.
“It’s been really awesome!” 27-year-old blocker Durant told fivb.com on the premises of the four-star Espinho stop on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour about a year later. “I really enjoy playing with Damien. We get along really well. We’re really great mates. We see the game the same way and like to go about us the same way, so it makes it really enjoyable when we are out there, doing our thing on court.”
Durant & Schumann had a pretty good run at the World Championship in Hamburg a couple of weeks ago. In their opening match in Germany, the Australians went toe-to-toe against defending champion Evandro Goncalves Oliveira Junior and reigning Olympic champion Bruno Oscar Schmidt only to lose 18-16 in the tie-breaker. They also posted a couple of victories to eventually finish 17th.
“It was amazing!” 31-year-old defender Schumann exclaimed. “The World Championship was so good! They put on a massive show. Beach volleyball is so big around the world and so popular in every country, whose biggest stars played there. It was Cole’s first World Championship and in our first game we got to play against Evandro & Bruno on centre court. We were very lucky to play on centre court and experience that.”
At Espinho, their first tournament together after Hamburg, Durant & Schumann started from the qualifications and made the main draw, but then lost both their pool stage matches to fall out of contention.
“We were super stoked to battle it out in the qualifications in the tough windy conditions on Thursday and fight hard enough to get into the main draw,” Durant commented. “Unfortunately, we just weren’t quite good enough to make it past the pool stage, but there are still many tournaments left. We are going to Tokyo next week and then pretty much playing everything that’s leading up to the World Tour Finals in Rome. We need to keep our heads up, stay the course, keep focused and keep moving forward.”
“We are definitely looking forward to playing at Rome. It is going to be a great tournament. I’ve never been to Rome,” Schumann added. “To be honest, you plan a lot on where to play on the World Tour, but you also have to stay in the moment. And right now we’re in Portugal. It’s beautiful here and we got to play on a real beach, which is very rare. So it’s a very special tournament and we really enjoyed it. We’d love to thank Portugal, the city of Espinho and their sponsors for putting on such a good tournament and we look forward to coming back here for many years. Beach volleyball is so popular around the world, but we still rely so heavily on the awesome sponsors who jump on board to support an event like this and also on our own sponsors. We are pleased and very lucky to have so much support from Volleyball Australia and our personal sponsors.”
Despite switching from Schubert to Schumann, Durant admits he doesn’t get a lot of classical music jokes. But Schumann does, because of his homonymy with the great composer.
“I get that a lot,” he pointed out. “Everybody has been asking me if I am related to the composer, but I am not. I did play the piano for seven years, but I hated every second of it. I’d much rather play beach volleyball.”
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