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Oceania athletes experience high performance facilities on the Gold Coast

12 Dec 2016

Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) are much more than 11 days of world class sporting competition, in April 2018. For thousands of athletes from around the world, who achieve selection, it will be the successful culmination of years of hard work and training.

Earning selection is not easy and athletes need to capitalise on every opportunity to be at the best of their game.

This week 40 elite athletes from Pacific Island nations are on the Gold Coast, Queensland, testing out training facilities and tapping into the expertise of a range of coaches and specialists in sports medicine, sports science and athlete lifestyle. The athletes from Vanuatu, Fiji, Tuvalu, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands and Norfolk Island represent the disciplines of athletics, beach volleyball, boxing and lawn bowls.

The athletes appreciate that they’re training in venues where they hope to represent their country for GC2018 and are making the most of every opportunity.

Vanuatu’s top female beach volleyball player Miller Pata has been here training on the Gold Coast this week. The experienced 28-year-old is a well-known player on the world circuit and is even more determined to compete at GC2018after falling just short of a Rio Olympic berth.

Vanuatu was beaten by Australia in the Asian Continental Cup Final in Cairns in late June.

Back in Vanuatu we have many sports that are part of the Commonwealth Games. I know I would really love to qualify for the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018.

I’m really happy to be able to come and visit to train here on the Gold Coast as back home in Vanuatu we don’t have the facilities like here.

- Miller Pata

27-year-old Moha Mea from Papua New Guinea is another beach volleyball athlete who has been involved in the intensive camp.

The facilities are just remarkable, it’s good that we are training down here because back home we usually don’t get to train in this sort of environment.

You have local beaches, we have man made, so being somewhere like the Gold Coast is very special. For us we are so lucky that we are training where the Games are going to be held, like today, we get to get the feeling of the sand even before the Games.

Mea watched his uncles play indoor volleyball when he was young and made the switch to beach volleyball nine years ago.

The turning point was in New Caledonia in 2010 at Oceania when we played against Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. That was when I knew I was going to become an elite beach volleyball athlete.

Mea has been chasing his dream of being an elite player for several years and he knows the next 12 months will be hard as he works his way back from injury and chases his Commonwealth Games dream.

Bachelor of Sport Science graduates from Griffith University have been working with the athletes and coaches during the camp, implementing comprehensive sport science specific measures to track athlete performance.

Kyle Pringle is one of three graduates who have just finished their degrees and have been working on the camp. The sport science specific sessions have been covering fitness, skills and tactical / match play.

Following a beach volleyball session on Coolangatta beachfront- where official competition will be held for GC2018, Pringle said:

We have had GPS units and heart rate monitors on the athletes across the various sessions.

Many of these athletes come from training environments that don’t have high-performance equipment available to them, we track and measure and provide the data which they can take with them to their training base.

GPS has been around for a while and there is a lot of research for soccer and football but not for beach volleyball, so we are trying to see how that can be used for volleyball. It’s a bit different because they have such a small area to work with, there is a lot of small velocities that we work within and it’s a bit more intricate dealing with these metrics.

As soon as we mention the GPS and explain what it does a lot of the coaches become interested in how it could work and what they might be able to do with that.

The athletes and these coaches will now take this data back to their training bases to influence their future training programs. They will then review the data at the next camp to evaluate progress.

This is the first of three high-performance camps ahead of GC2018. The second camp will be in mid-2017 with the final being hosted in January 2018 here on the Gold Coast, Queensland.