Silver for Nicklin / Fuller in China

Beach Blacks Alani Nicklin and Brad Fuller claimed a silver medal in the Beach Pro Tour Futures event in Wenzhou Cangnan, China on Sunday.

After a 2-0 win over an Iranian pair in the semi-final, the Kiwi pair met top seeded home combination of Jaixin Wu and Likejiang Ha, the Chinese pair claiming gold with a 21-15, 21-17 victory.

The second New Zealand team at the event, Tom Reid and Jack McManaway, were edged in three sets by Wu and Likejiang in the quarter-finals. 


Sam O'Dea calls time


After almost 15 years of international competition, Beach Blacks player Sam O'Dea has called time on his international career in beach volleyball.

O'Dea penned an open letter to the volleyball community to confirm his decision after competing in the recent Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.


After close to 15 years of international competition, I’ve decided to hang up the boots or more appropriately the sunnies, cap and shorts. 

I could have never imagined the journey I’ve had playing volleyball, the places, the people, and the huge highs and lows over the years. 

It's been an epic journey with memories I'll have for the rest of my life. As much as I still love competing, I have many other things that I want to do in my life that I cannot do while still playing.

I want to plant my feet on the ground for a while, experience some colder months and follow some other dreams I have. 

There have been many people that have had a huge impact on my career, coaches, partners, sponsors, supporters and organisations that have allowed me to follow my dreams and I will be forever grateful to them. 

Knowing when to leave is hard, it's a big decision and a very personal one. I hope that during my time I have represented New Zealand well and I leave the sport in a better place.

VNZ High Performance Coach Jason Lochhead acknowledged O’Dea’s retirement comes after an outstanding commitment to his own development and the game in New Zealand for more than a decade.

“Sam has devoted himself to beach volleyball over a long period and achieved some outstanding results for himself, his team-mates and his country on the international stage,” Lochhead said.

“He is an incredibly talented player, but we understand that he is ready to move on to the next chapter of his life. 

“I’ve really valued working with him and he’s produced some great performances on the FIVB World Tour. On behalf of everyone in the New Zealand volleyball community, we wish him well for the future and what’s to come.”

Games knockout matches confirmed

The Beach Blacks and Beach Ferns Commonwealth Games Quarter Finals opponents have been confirmed.

Beach Blacks Brad Fuller and Sam O'Dea face Rwanda's Olivier Ntagengwa and Venuste Gatsinzi at 10pm Friday night NZ time, and can expect a tough test.

The Rwandan pair qualified for the quarters with wins against South Africa and the Maldives, and pushing Australia hard in their final pool match.

Fuller and O'Dea were unbeaten through pool play, qualifying top in their group after a tough hit out against England's Bello Brothers on Thursday.

"I think our intensity was spot on, very intense when we needed to be and then we came back down to a good level when we were ready to side out again. If we can take that through to the quarterfinals, then that's going to be huge for us," said Brad Fuller.

In the women's competition, Alice Zeimann and Shaunna Polley will play England's Jess Grimson and Daisy Mumby at 7am Saturday morning NZ time.

The Beach Ferns are ranked 41 places ahead of the home team, but will have to deal with a home crowd - the English duo had wins against the Solomon Islands and Scotland but went down in two sets to Vanuatu on their way to the quarters, while the Beach Ferns accounted for Kenya and Ghana but lost to the strong Canadian side in their last pool match.

"The Canada match definitely set us up for our quarters and gives us a lot of confidence. We know that when we play our game, we can foot it with anyone, we're really stoked," said Alice Zeimann.

  • Beach Blacks v Rwanda - 22:00 Friday 5 August NZ time, live on Sky Sport 5/Bir 2 or Sky Channel 055
  • Beach Ferns v England - 07:00 Saturday 6 August 7am NZ time, live on Sky Sport 6 /Bir 3 or Sky Channel 056 
  • Full schedule

Two wins from two matches

The Beach Blacks and Beach Ferns have won their first matches at the Commonwealth Games. 

Both pairs were put under pressure at times by Cyprus and Kenya respectively, before recording 2-0 wins.

Both teams looked right at home on the Birmingham sand, in front of a noisy, vibrant crowd. "The crowd was super intense, and definitely got in behind the Cyprus guys, the underdogs! But we had some great support out there," said Sam O'Dea.

"In that first set we were just really trying to feel things out and the guys from Cyprus just came out blasting, which was a good test. They went up quite late in the first set, so it was good for us to win that one, that was clutch."

"Once we got that we really found our rhythm and showed a bit more intensity in the second, so that's something we'll look for our next matches."

"Cyprus were a good test for us for sure, it's awesome to play small countries just going at it, wet really had no idea how they're gonna play, so we had to make a lot of stuff up on the fly, talking a lot between ourselves about strategy and and stuff like that," said Sam ODea.

Both teams are back in action on Tuesday morning NZ time with the Beach Ferns meeting Ghana at 6am and the Beach Blacks facing Tuvalu at 8am, get all the details including TV Coverage here.

Game one results
NZL O'Dea S./Fuller 2 - 0 Liotatis/Zorbis CYP
Set 1 21 - 18
Set 2 21 - 13
NZL win 2-0
Full stats

NZL Zeimann/Polley 2 - 0 Makokha/Khadambi KEN
Set 1 21 - 10
Set 2 21 - 19
NZL win 2-0
Full stats


"Getting gold, that's our goal"

Beach Blacks Sam O'Dea and Brad Fuller are a potent mix of experience and potential heading into the Birmingham Games.

O'Dea already has a bronze medal in the cabinet from the 2018 Gold Coast Games and is looking for another, coloured gold, in Birmingham. The games follow a successful New Zealand summer and time on the Asian and European World Tour circuit, winning the Italian Futures event in Giardini Naxos in early July.

"That was a crazy one, in every tournament you could come 20th, or you could come first, there's not much of a difference. Coming back from heat exhaustion in the early rounds to win it was awesome," said Sam O'Dea.

In their time on the World Tour, O'Dea and Fuller have put plenty of thinking into their styles and developing a strong partnership on the court.

"We've had a pretty clear picture of what kind of team we want to be, our strengths together and what we wanted to work on since we started - because we haven't played together so long, that picture really helped, and having our coach Jason Lochhead to guide us has been really cool too."

"I always knew Brad was very talented athletically, he's a really quick learner. We're pretty similar personality-wise, we can both be on the quiet side, which is something we both want to be conscious of in case the energy goes flat, he's been really open to learning, it's been really good, he's been awesome, picking things up and working hard," said Sam O'Dea.

"We're very similar in a lot of ways, quite relaxed and level headed people. In terms of experience, Sam has a lot to draw from, so he definitely helps me in that regard," said Brad Fuller.

"I like to be the one that cheers loud for most points. But every now and then Sam pipes up and that's when you know that he's into it! But we get along really well and we're talking all the time between points, just constantly thinking about what we can do to improve."

Having been on the road since the New Zealand summer, the Beach Blacks have had a good look at their Games rivals ahead of the tournament.

"The preparation has been great, going overseas I wasn't really sure what to expect, but we've had a chance to see who we're going to be up against in some of the bigger games, and we've actually played the teams in our pool twice, so that's definitely been handy. It's going to be a new experience for me being part of the NZ team, with more sporting codes along, it's very exciting, said Brad Fuller.

"Now we're getting closer the the Games, we're looking at our competition and what we can do to meet the challenge - obviously Canada, Australia, England will be tough, but there are a lot of tier two countries that have come up since the Gold Coast to watch out for," said Sam O'Dea.

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