CW Games Mens Podium

The men's podium featured teams from Australia, Canada and England (Photo: Birmingham 2022)

The second edition of the Commonwealth Games featuring beach volleyball on its programme ended on Sunday in Birmingham, England, with Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour teams from Canada and Australia taking the top of the podium, repeating the outcome of the previous edition of the competition held in Australia in 2018.

Beach Pro Tour stars and 2019 world champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes of Canada were the winners among the women, earning their second Commonwealth Games gold, while Australian Olympian Chris McHugh was also able to defend the title he won four years ago among the men, this time playing alongside Paul Burnett.

Partners since 2017, Pavan and Melissa won their eighth international gold medal as partners at Smithfield and their second in 2022, following a victory at a Beach Pro Tour Elite16 event in Jurmala, Latvia, in June.

In the gold medal match, which was a repeat of the previous edition of the event, the Canadians defeated Tokyo Olympic silver medallists Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar of Australia in three sets (22-24, 21-17, 15-12).

“This medal holds a lot of weight for me,” Melissa commented. “It’s been four years and a lot can change, so the fact that we could execute another gold-medal performance is rare and very special. ... I think this represents a lot of work and it’s for Team Canada.”

The women’s podium in Birmingham was nearly a full repeat of Gold Coast 2018, with Vanuatu’s Miller Pata, who took bronze four years ago with Linline Matauatu, repeating that performance with new partner Sherysyn Toko. The two topped New Zealand’s Shaunna Polley and Alice Zeimann 2-1 (10-21, 22-20, 15-10) to secure the last spot on the podium.

Burnett McHugh Gold Medal Match

McHugh receives during the gold medal match at Smithfield in Birmingham (Photo: Birmingham 2022)

In the men’s event, the gold medal match reunited two finalists from 2018 – McHugh and Canadian Sam Schachter. As was the case four years ago, when McHugh and then-partner Damien Schumann won in three sets, he and Burnett also needed the tie-breaker (17-21, 21-17, 20-18) to overcome Schachter and partner Dan Dearing to strike gold.

“It feels good, it’s crazy,” McHugh commented. “To come from two match points down, it is a surreal experience. That is why we play, for moments like this, feelings like this. You just want to savour it, because it doesn’t last forever and there will be another tournament in no time. I just want to enjoy this one with my family and friends.”

In their first season together, McHugh and Burnett also had two semifinal appearances in the Beach Pro Tour, winning silver at the Kuşadası Challenge back in May and finishing fourth in Agadir two weeks ago.

Bronze went to the English Bello twins Joaquin and Javier, who comfortably defeated Rwanda’s Venuste Gatsinzi and Olivier Ntagengwa in two sets (21-11, 21-12).

From Birmingham, Pavan/Melissa, Clancy/Mariafe and Schachter/Dearing will all head straight to Hamburg to compete at this week’s Elite16 event that begins on Wednesday.