National beach volleyball men’s pair, Leo Williams and Grant Goldschmidt entered the record books when they became the first South African team to appear on the FIVB World Tour semi-finals at the Anchor Beach Volleyball Carnival in Kg Speu, in Cambodia, earlier this month.
Despite placing second following their 2-0 loss in the final to Russia, the pair became the country’s first-ever podium placers.
Williams says on any given day, they can beat the best team despite the lack of investment in the sport in the country.
Williams says before reaching the finals in Cambodia, they beat Australia, Chinese Taipei, and tournament favourites, USA.
He says a week before the competition, they finished fifth in the FIVB World Tour in India.
“After 14 games in tour, the tiredness got to us. We just got back from Cambodia about a week ago. We took part in the provincial federation and SA volleyball before we were given a week’s break. We are starting preparations for our next tour after a week of recovery,” says Williams.
In April, Williams and Goldschmidt have a feast of events to look out for, including the World ChampionshipQualifiersin Nigeria where they have to finish in the top four, followed by the FIVB World Tour in Malaysia, followed by Poland.
The UWC economics graduate, Williams said his pairing with Goldschmidt began six years ago and they have been winning both in SA and in Africa for the provincial and national team, including the National League title in KZN last year.
“We have always said we can do it but we never backed it. But if you love something the way we do I think we talk about it 24/7. We stick to the passion and keep chasing it every day. Our aim is for the Olympics,” says Williams.
Goldschmidt, from Goodwood, says it is a big achievement for them because it is the first medal for the country.
“I’m feeling good. We came from a good pre-season and a good tour. We are very excited and motivated because of the results.”
Goldschmidt, a sports management graduate from UWC, says beach volleyball is one of the less popular sports played in the country. It can be tough and exciting at the same time.
“Youngsters need to enjoy it with passion. When I was young I used to play for no reward for the school because I loved it.
“We have very strong volleyball teams in the province. We were champs for both in the indoor and beach volleyball circuits,” says Goldschmidt.