(Image used with permission from CayCompass.com)
For local talent, look no further than Westin Grand Cayman’s Pool & Beach Manager, Duncan Hamann. When he’s not working on making the Westin’s guests’ ideal beach vacation dreams a reality, Duncan is leading the way for the Cayman Island’s men’s beach volleyball team, making a name internationally for Cayman Islands Volleyball. This comes with the news that Cayman beach volleyball will now be part of the Olympic qualification process. The North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation recently confirmed that the Cayman Islands will host a portion of the 2014 Continental Cup tournament, at which teams can qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. The first round takes place on July 25-27, and will feature both men’s and women’s beach volleyball.
Cayman’s local teams had a particularly strong year in 2013, coming off the NORCECA Beach Volleyball Circuit with the female tandem of Cristin Alexander and Jessica Wolfenden in eighth place, and the men’s team of Richard Campbell and Duncan Hamann, who finished 16th out of 24 countries.
Given that the winter Olympics are giving us a little competitive fever, we sat down with Duncan to get his view on the news, and what it takes to make it to Rio:
When did you start playing volleyball?
I played indoor court volleyball in high school, but started learning the beach game when I moved to Cayman 8 years ago. This year will be my 5th season playing for the national team.
Do you/Did you play any other sports, or is volleyball your athletic passion?
I grew up playing high level ice hockey, but stopped playing competitively partway through university. Volleyball has definitely become my passion in the last 8 years though. Aside from my career and my family (wife and twin 2 ½ year old girls) any extra free time I have is spent either on the sand or in training facilities to improve my game.
How did you take the news that part of the Continental Cup tournament will be held in the Cayman Islands? Are you excited? Nervous?
This is the second time that the first stage of Continental Cup will be held here. I’m happy that the FIVB has decided to allow us to host it again, it’s always very exciting to be able to compete in front of the home crowd.
Have you always had Olympic dreams?
I’ve never really thought as far ahead as Olympics. Usually the teams that make it there qualify through the World Tour, which demands that beach volleyball be the sole occupation…for us, it’s more of a competitive hobby outside of our regular profession, so it’s a long shot, but I guess never impossible!
What do you think it takes to make it to Rio?
Any advice for other Olympic hopefuls out there?
I have friends in Canada who made it to London 2012 for beach volleyball, with whom I have trained periodically. It takes a lot of self-discipline and total dedication to improving oneself physically, mentally & emotionally. Everything from diet, free time and recreation must be planned with this ultimate goal in mind.