2017-07-28 09:00:00 CEST
Austrian veteran can’t wait to get started on home sand
In his 20 years of beach volleyball Clemens Doppler had thought he’d seen it all.
That was until he stepped out into an empty Red Bull Beach Arena to train a day before the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships presented by A1 in his home town, Vienna.
“Even with no fans the stadiums was giving me goosebumps,” said 36-year-old us. He showed us. He wasn’t lying.
The legendary blocker is embarking on his ninth World Championships, and together with Alex Horst, they are flying the flag as the top-seeded men’s team from Austria – and expectation is firmly on their shoulders to deliver.
“This is the focus,” Doppler continued. “We’ve been preparing for more than six months and now it’s finally here and we can’t wait.
“To play in the biggest beach volleyball tournament in my hometown…it’s indescribable. I played my first Masters tournament here 20 years ago and now I’m playing here in the World Championships. How better can it get? It’s perfect and Vienna deserves this. It’s the capital city and I think a lot of people are going to fall in love with the tournament. It could be a turning point for the sport.”
With 10,000 beach fans expected to turn up the volume in support of their heroes, Doppler hopes he and Horst can take inspiration from Olympic champions Alison/Bruno, who they beat on the Copacabana last summer before the Brazilians bounced back to claim gold.
“The Brazilians did an amazing job in Rio, really amazing,” explains Clemens. “They had so much pressure and expectation to win the gold medal resting on their shoulders. We beat them – nobody in the stadium probably knew where Austria was – but for them it was the point where they went up a gear – they desperately wanted to win gold.
“They showed why they were worthy champions, and real heroes. It was a perfect performance on home sand and now we want to try and see if we can do something like that here.”
Doppler/Horst’s first assignment in Pool L is a tricky one. They take on Iranians Rahman Raoufi and Bahman Salemiinjehboroun, bronze medal winners at the World Tour event in Morocco last week, on the Red Bull Arena at 4pm CET.
“It’s not a pool of any stand-out names,” says Doppler, who has clearly done his homework on the opposition who lie in wait. “The Iranians won the Asian Men’s Beach Championships in April.
“We know a lot about the Saxton/Schalk, while the other Canadians [Nusbaum/Vanderburg] have a Under-19 World Champs bronze medalist and a guy who is 6ft 10in!
“We will need to be on our game but hopefully we can start this World Championship on home sand with a win.”
Tune in to Doppler/Horst’s first game in the World Championships in their hometown live on BeachStream. Sign-up to watch it free, here.
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