TT beach volleyballers stole the show, on Sunday night, as Rheeza Grant and Abby Blackman (women) as well as Daneil Williams and Dante Stewart (men) defended their respective Barbados Olympic Association Independence Invitational Games (BIIG) titles at Pirate’s Cove, Barbados.
The finals were played under lights and saw a large number of spectators witnessing some of the best beach volleyballers in the Caribbean. However, for the majority of the night, the Barbadian supporters were relatively quiet due to the dominating performances by the TT players.
In the all TT women’s final, the more senior pair of Grant/Blackman won comprehensively against Tsyan Selvon/Brittany Choon 2-0 (21:06, 21:14). Selvon and Choon were totally outclassed in the first set losing at six but they grew in confidence and looked more assured in the second despite losing on 14.
After assisting in defending the women’s title Blackman said, “It was a really nice experience again, we came out victorious and we are thankful for that.” Commenting on the opportunity to play against her national junior counterparts, she said, “It was an honour, having both TT teams playing in the final and the girls had a really good performance especially in the second set.”
Her partner Grant said, “Our focus now is Pan American Games next year and all the NORCECA tours because they are qualifiers for ‘Pan Am’. We are currently leading in points for the English Speaking Caribbean and we need to maintain that then we will shift the focus toTokyo, Olympics.”
The men’s final was the most anticipated match of the night and it was keenly contested between TT’s Williams/Stewart and Bajans Elwyn Oxley and Mark Lewis. The TT team led throughout the first set maintaining seven-point leads at (12-5) and (19-12) until the experienced Barbadians stormed their way back late in the set making it a close finish. However, Williams and Stewart held on to win (21:18) for the first set victory. Williams had some powerful spikes while Stewart reverted to overhead lobs and shots down the line which confused their opponents. The visitors sealed the deal with a (21:16) triumph in the second, to win 2-0.
Williams said after securing the gold medal, “It’s a good feeling, we played against some very experienced guys, they are players I started off playing against and I have a lot of respect for them. It is really nice to come out here and represent TT.” Williams continued, “The season is over so we are back to training, we have a new coach to work along with our coach Nancy who is doing a good job. We are going back home to train and start off next season properly because there will be Olympic Qualifiers.