If you think playing beach volleyball with your twin sister as a partner is a guarantee of seamless understanding on the sand, you should ask Canada’s Megan and Nicole McNamara where they think their difficulties lie.
The twins won their opening match at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games on Sunday, beating Ecuador’s Mishelle Carolayn Molina Pacheco and Valeria Briggitte Batioja Ocampo 2-0, but they know what they must do to maximise their potential on the court. “One of our weaknesses is we fight sometimes. We blame each other for mistakes,” Nicole said. “Because we are siblings, it is easy to just get mad at each other. We are working on it,” Megan added.
The sisters, who started playing beach volleyball four years ago during a family holiday, became the surprise winners of Canada's national senior title in 2013 when they were 16 and won bronze at the Under-19 World Championships in Porto this summer, their first international tournament.
Competing at the Youth Olympic Games, according to Megan, will be “a bit more nerve-racking because it is [on] a bigger scale, but I think if we play well we have a good chance of medalling like we did in the Under-19 [competition].”
At 1.75m, the McNamaras are considered to be relatively short for beach volleyball, but they are happy to regard their special relationship as a supplementary weapon – at least when they are not arguing. “Three years ago they used to fight a lot on the court. You know, like sisters do, mainly on things that don’t matter. They know how to get under each other’s skin,” their coach, Mischa Harris (CAN), said. “They are very close, it is undeniable that they have a twin connection, they communicate with each other in a different way. They can get away with talking a bit less than others.”
Nicole acknowledges that taking responsibility is essential if they are to improve: “Just saying, ‘That was my fault’ [is important],” she said. “Sometimes we find ourselves not communicating as much as we should.” Megan added: “There is no telepathy [among twins], as opposed to what people often wonder.”
Despite their difficulties, neither sister wants to play with anyone else. “We have played all our life together. It is definitely an advantage to have a tall blocker, but we just love playing with each other. It feels weird to play with anyone else,” Megan said. “It’s fun playing with each other too, we trust each other,” Nicole added.
The McNamara twins are next in action on Monday, August 18, when they take on Stephanie Palmhert and Kim Seebach, of Namibia.