Sydney, Australia, February 13, 2019 – Mariafe Artacho del Solar has vivid memories of her introduction to beach volleyball at the age of 12, when she was persuaded by her brother to play in a social tournament held at the iconic Manly Beach.
“We won the tournament. It was so much fun and I decided that this is what I wanted to do,” said Mariafe on that moment that changed the course of her life.
Thirteen years later Mariafe will be returning to Manly Beach for the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour 3-star – tagged as the biggest beach volleyball tournament staged in Australia since the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Mariafe and partner Taliqua Clancy won the World Tour 2-star event staged at Manly Beach in 2017, followed by four more World Tour victories and a silver medal at the 2018 Common Wealth Games.
“I love playing in Manly,” she said. “It’s my favourite beach. I get energy from the people of Manly when they watch me play.”
Mariafe and Taliqua are aiming for the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in July in Germany with the ultimate target of making it to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Both players have been to the Olympics but with different partners and the Sydney 3-star event will be their first international tournament for the year with Olympic qualification points on offer.
“We are sitting in a good position as a team. We want to be in the top five in the lead-up to Tokyo,” Mariafe said.
“We are a good partnership, we both have a different style of play. She (Taliqua) is competitive, agile, and she has speed and incredible physical skills.We are also great friends away from training and playing.”
The top Australian pair is based in Adelaide on scholarship. They train up to eight hours a day, five days a week. With their busy travel schedule playing on the World Tour, Mariafe sees playing at the Sydney 3-star event at Manly Beach as something special.
“It’s great travelling around the world and all the experience that comes with it, but it does get challenging at times, being away from loved ones for months throughout the year. I love playing at home in front of our family and friends.”
Mariafe and Taliqua lead a tough cast of teams in the women’s main draw, where their 2017 Sydney 2-star rivals Wang Fan and Xia Xinyi of China are back again this year to challenge the top home pair.
Kerri Walsh Jennings will be continuing her quest to make it to her fifth Olympic Games in beach volleyball with new partner Brooke Sweat. In October 2018 after announcing their partnership, the pair produced its first medal at the FIVB World Tour 3-star event in Chetumal in Mexico.
Another seasoned athlete, Xue Chen of China, will also see action at Manly Beach with young partner Wang Xinxin
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