English beach pair given significant funding boost

England’s chances of securing a beach volleyball medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games have been given a huge boost with Sport England agreeing to fund the leading men’s beach pair to the tune of £40,000.

Chris Gregory and Jake Sheaf’s current world ranking should see England qualify as one of the top-ranked Commonwealth countries. The new funding will be used to provide coaching support as the pair look to maintain that position before the qualification cut-off point in August. It will also support them through an extensive training and competition schedule leading up to the Games in April 2018.

Securing entry to the Commonwealth Games – to be held on Australia’s Gold Coast – would represent a significant achievement for a pair who were ranked outside the top 300 in 2014 but who have since climbed to 65. Of the Commonwealth countries, only Australia and Canada have men’s pairs who are more highly ranked than Gregory and Sheaf.

Commenting on the announcement, Chris Gregory said: “We’re really pleased to receive this funding, as to be in a situation like this is something we’ve been working towards for a few years. This funding opens up so many new opportunities for us in terms of training and competition – all of which are vital for us to compete at the very highest level. Above all, to work closely with our coach, Kirk Pitman, in different training environments and at competitions, is something we haven't been able to do before. It'll be huge to have more time with Kirk in the season and it's something the whole team is delighted about.”

“I try to stay on the optimistic side and was hopeful we would receive some funding because of the way we finished last year and because of our Commonwealth Nations ranking. I think we’ve shown that, with the right support, we can be medal contenders at the Commonwealth Games. Receiving this funding – for which we’re really grateful – suggests that Sport England share our confidence. We now have over a year to get ourselves into the best possible shape for the competition.”

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