EDINBURGH’S Shauna Mullin and her GB team-mate Zara Dampney made a winning start to their Olympic beach volleyball campaign – although they had a growing fan base on the edge of their seats.
If you wanted to see the benefits of home advantage at these Games you only had to watch this match at Horse Guards Parade in what is fast becoming the hottest ticket in town.
Although the weather was hardly suitable for the beach, Dampney and Mullin warmed up the home crowd coming from a set down to beat Canada’s Marie-Andrée Lessard and Annie Martin 17-21, 21-14, 15-13 in just under an hour.
If they’d been playing away this might have been a game they lost but inspired by the raucous atmosphere they staged a battling fightback.
Mullin admitted she felt a little uneasy about the booing of their opponents, this is a venue where the ‘official beer of the Games’ runs free, but had no complaints about fans’ support.
“Did it make a difference, definitely, they really got us over the line,” she said.
“It’s an incredible atmosphere to be out there when they are making all that noise for you.
“When you need to dig in, then having the crowd behind you is so vital.
“We got a taste of it at the test event last year but this is huge. Playing right in the centre of London with all the landmarks around you, the London Eye in the background and Big Ben chiming, it’s just amazing.”
This was an important match to win in Dampney and Mullin bid to progress at these Games and better Great Britain’s previous best and last beach volleyball performance, a ninth place in Atlanta 16 years ago.