British twins hope for beach volleyball glory
Buenos Aires 2018 represents a golden opportunity for the Bello brothers to add to their breakthrough Commonwealth Youth Games title.
Javier and Joaquin Bello began their first day at university in London on Monday. Twenty-four hours later, the 18-year-olds had flown to Buenos Aires to compete in the Youth Olympic Games as Great Britain's beach volleyball team.
Joaquin (pictured below left), the youngest of the brothers by five minutes, said: “We turned up and then went to Argentina. I met quite a few students, made some friends and spoke to the people in charge. They’re not too happy I’m going to miss so much time, but they understand it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us.”
The reputation of the brothers has preceded them. Sons of former professional volleyball player Luis Bello, the pair were gold medallists for England at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games in Nassau, Bahamas, beating Sotiris Siapanis and Constantinos Skordis of Cyprus 2-0 in the final.
“It was quite historic,” said Javier. “(Great Britain) hadn’t won a (beach volleyball) medal at any Olympics or Commonwealth Games - junior or senior.”
Their hopes for success in a tournament that takes place at Green Park from Sunday (7 October) to Wednesday 17 October hinges on a relationship that is almost telepathic.
“When we’re on the court we fight quite a lot, but we focus and go back to our advantages of knowing everything about each other,” said Joaquin.
“It really shows that at any second (I know) where he’s going to be. If he’s behind me I still know exactly what he’s going to do. We work really well together.”
Among the favourites in the boys’ competition this year are the Russian team of Denis Shekunov and Dmitrii Veretiuk. The winners of the U19 World Championships and U20 European Championships qualified for Buenos Aires 2018 following their victory at the 2017-18 European Youth Continental Cup Final.
Meanwhile, the status of the Youth Olympic Games has been furthered by the efforts of Eduarda Lisboa (BRA). One half of the gold medallists from the Nanjing 2014 YOG - alongside Ana Patricia Silva (BRA) - she has since gone on to become the most valuable player on this year’s FIVB World Tour.
The teams to beat in the girls’ competition include the Netherlands duo of Raisa Schoon and Emi van Driel and the winners of the U19 World Championships in Nanjing in July, Russia’s Mariia Bocharova and Maria Voronina.