Austin/Evans win historic Beach World Tour bronze
17th June 2019
Ellie Austin and Anaya Evans achieved a historic moment for English beach volleyball at the weekend as they won a bronze medal at the FIVB World Tour event in Greece.
After having to qualify for the main draw for the event in Ios, Austin and Evans went on a brilliant run which saw them defeat Sweden 2-0 for the bronze medal – the first podium for an English pair at World Tour level since 1999.
“This has been over 20 years in the making,” says Denise Austin, the team’s coach and Ellie’s proud mum. “They’re only 17 and 20 so the level of thinking, focus and team work was way beyond their years. To show such good qualities at such a young age is what is so exciting to watch.”
From qualifying to bronze
The rising beach stars overcame Slovenia and Turkey in straight sets to qualify for the main draw. In the pool stages, the pair defeated Denmark and Sweden to set up a quarterfinal tie against Italy. After they had been pegged back to one set all, the pair showed excellent temperament to advance to the semis by winning the decider 15-11.
In the semi-finals, Austin and Evans were edged out 2-0 by eventual champions and home favourites Greece, but underlined their quality as they pushed the hosts hard in a tight game (23-21, 21-15).
The bronze medal shootout saw them meet Sweden again and the English pair showed superb composure to close the match out 21-17, 22-20 and seal a landmark bronze medal.
“It was a really tough game but we stuck in at the end,” says Ellie.
To save team costs, Denise didn’t travel with Ellie and Anaya but was a constant source of support.
“I was coaching remotely, speaking to them before and after every game, and they sent me videos of the opposition teams which we could analyse,” says Denise. “I was watching online and was so proud of the mental qualities they showed.”
After reaching the podium in Greece and representing England at the Continental Cup last month, the prospects for these two young sports stars are high but Denise says they will be taking things one step at a time.
“We can’t look too far ahead,” says Denise. “There is a big financial obligation to play regularly at World Tour level. It’s great they both have scholarships to American colleges who will be investing in their development.
“The long-term aim is to help them be the best they can be and give them the opportunity to play on the World Tour so they can gain points to qualify for Olympic and Commonwealth Games. That will take a big sponsorship though and they will need results like this to show they’re capable.”