Australia beat scorching temperatures – and especially Canada – to give a beach volleyball star another gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
Winning a gold medal is a little more exciting than looking at people’s teeth all day, and Adelaide dentist Paul Burnett would know it – he’s just won the Commonwealth Games beach volleyball gold.
“I’m keeping dentistry in my back pocket for now,” he said. “It’s hard to get those feelings when you look at people’s teeth.”
Burnett watched Chris McHugh win the gold for Australia at the Gold Coast Games from his home couch, but four years later the debutant teamed up with the sport’s veteran to win his own gold in Birmingham.
By English standards it was a scorer for the final – not to mention the action on court which ended in an exciting third set of match point after match point.
Canada’s Sam Schachter and Daniel Dearing looked strong in the first set, winning 21-17 before Burnett and McHugh turned the tables and won by the same margin in the second.
It was 40C in the sand by the electric third set. Not quite Tokyo, where the mercury hit 51C, but hot enough that South Africa’s first referee Giovanni Bake succumbed.
He was comforted by both sides with a score of 12-12 as he resigned for a second referee, New Zealand’s Tim Cleaver.
He caused an exciting back and forth between the teams. With four match points, Australia had the game firmly under control before being snatched from determined Canadians time and time again. But eventually McHugh and Burnett were too good.
They knew before anyone else and saw up close where the ball had landed on the last match point. It was only when they began to celebrate on the pitch that the crowd realized the ball was out and Australia had secured victory.
“I was a little shaky at first, but Paul was good – he played really well, he served really well,” McHugh said.
“For us to go back to back and for him to have his first Commonwealth Games medal – we are proud and very grateful to everyone at home for their support.”
Aside from everything else, McHugh said he was glad his two children would now each get a gold medal from him.
From the couch to the top of the podium, Burnett said the triumph only left him and McHugh hungry for more – and the pair are preparing to qualify for Paris 2024 from January next year.
“We take a lot of confidence from what we’ve done here, we want to build on that and do some damage,” Burnett said.
Canada’s Schachter recorded Australia’s win succinctly, patting McHugh on the bum as he passed in the media zone after the game.
“F***er,” he said good-naturedly.
Originally published as Commonwealth Games 2022: Australia Wins Men’s Beach Volleyball Gold Medal
https://www.codesports.com.au/commonwealth-games/commonwealth-games-2022-australia-wins-mens-beach-volley-gold-medal/news-story/a37487fab7a34c8df7625a77f9b4d8e1?nk=15d3bb95b7e69d30231bb27ca77e1ccc-1659906909 2022 Commonwealth Games: Australia wins men’s beach volleyball gold medal