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2017-08-11 10:18:00 CEST

Sax on the Beach – World Champs blog

In his latest blog, Ben reflects on the World Champs...

Ben in action on the Red Bull Beach ArenaBen in action on the Red Bull Beach Arena

The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships presented by A1 are over and I apologize for the delay in posting my recap. It’s the most prolific event on the World Tour so I wanted to come up with a blog that’s extra meaningful, even though I’m still not even sure that anyone will read it. With that in mind, I considered what it is that makes the World Championships so special. This year’s event was a huge spectacle to behold. It had the largest crowd, a massive tournament village, and obviously top-notch beach volleyball, but those aren’t the parts that I want to acknowledge about this tournament. I want to talk about the people who make the World Champs what they are. And I’m going to do it in the most stereotypical Canadian way that I know how. By saying thank you.

There’s no better place to start than with the athletes, I do include myself in this group (you’re welcome, self) but I’m going to write about it in the second person, because otherwise it sounds weird. Without the volleyball players, there is obviously no volleyball. Thank you for the competitive drive, the willingness to constantly strive for improvement, and putting your bodies on the line all year long. For making a physically and technically challenging sport look easy, and also being easy on the eyes (still very aware that I’m talking about myself 😉). Thanks for showing pride in your country and representing them to the best of your abilities. Whether you come from a perennial powerhouse nation, or whether your country qualified for the first time, you did that country proud. This thank you extends to athletes from past, present, and future generations of beach volleyball, for creating the game and evolving it in ways no one has ever seen or expected, and always finding new ways to impress the world with your play. Thanks especially right now to Laura and Kira and Evandro and Andre for setting the new bar that the rest of us can aim to beat.

Ben and Chaim celebrate during their last-16 win over Alison/BrunoBen and Chaim celebrate during their last-16 win over Alison/Bruno

Now as long as I’m thanking the athletes, I’ve also got to thank their support staff. The behind the scenes crews that make the teams great, but often go unnoticed. Thanks to the coaches who stay up all night poring over game tape, looking for ways to give their team that slight edge, even if that same team wouldn’t spend the money to get you your own hotel room so you’re now sleeping on the floor in theirs. Thanks to the physios, massage therapists, chiropractors, athletic therapists, and every other health practitioner I haven’t named that can perform miracles and restore a broken mangled body into peak athletic form from one match to the next. (Especially big thanks to Canadian physio, Nicole, who paid her own way to Vienna just to help us out. No coincidence it was the first time Canada has ever had four top 10 finishing teams at a World Champs). Thanks to the physical, mental and nutritional trainers who build the foundations of our strength of body and mind. Thanks to the statisticians, training teams, agents, and everyone else who contributes even a small part to the puzzle that makes up each team. Without each member of support exactly where it currently is, your team wouldn’t be exactly where they currently are.

The classic Saxton/Schalk celebrationThe classic Saxton/Schalk celebration

Thanks to the event staff. The people who spend months planning and setting things in motion, bringing ideas into reality. Covering all the bases so that the athletes and the fans can coexist for 10 straight days and love every minute of it. The security guards, booth operators, court managers, ball kids, and Red Bull girls (especially Elisa, mine and Chaim’s good luck charm in Vienna) who have a specific job, and do it well. To the referees: I know we’ve had our differences (though, I like to think me less than most), but the athletes only had to withstand the heat once a day and you guys went out there match after match knowing full well you won’t be making any friends, and we never hear a word of complaint, so my hat is off to you. To the Beach Majors staff, who made this year’s World Championships their way. You took Vienna by storm, the constantly filled 10,000 seat stadium is proof of that. It helps that the hometown heroes made the most of the environment. Thanks to the media teams that share our biggest accomplishments with the world, beach volleyball is reaching places it never could in the past. I personally want to thank the team of people that have helped me out with the writing of this blog. I haven’t been the most prompt in delivering it, but you guys haven’t yelled at me once and I’ve enjoyed writing it.

Finally, thank you to the fans. During a beach event, the athletes are the lightning, but the fans are the thunder. That stadium got so loud, I feel like everyone in Vienna was in attendance. Your passion provides us with energy when we get tired, confidence when we make mistakes, and always excitement, whether we win or lose. Thanks to the fans at home who are just curious about the game, or who follow their favorite teams religiously and stay up until the earliest hours so they don’t miss a point. And my biggest thank you goes to our most diehard fans, our friends and families. The people who want what’s best for not only our volleyball careers, but what’s best for our lives. The people who have faith in us unconditionally, even at those times when our faith in ourselves wavers. You are the people that we play for the most, and no tournament would mean the same things without you pushing us forward.

My last thank you goes to anyone who actually read through this whole blog, it’s a long one, but I just wanted everyone to get the recognition they deserve. I’m sure even after all that, I missed some people, and if you’re one of them, thank you to you too. Ok I’m done. You’re welcome.

Cheers,

Ben Saxton

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