Meet Ellie: Beach Volleyball Champion
We love when people get in contact with us and no more than when that person is the fun bubbly British Champion Ellie Austin. The young blonde bombshell is not to be stereotyped as she is way more than her looks with serious power to her as well as a lot of ambitions.
Starting Volleyball at the young age of just 4 she ways always destined to do well, ‘My mother was an ex professional player and runs her own beach volleyball coaching beach camp business. She competed on the FIVB world tour for many years. As soon as I touched a volleyball I didn’t look back it has been my life ever since.’
Beach volleyball was first played in the U.S. about 100 years ago and quickly became popular in Brazil. In 1996 beach volleyball also became part of the Olympics. Beach volleyball began to appear in Europe during the 1930’s, Germany is currently most serious about the sport however Ellie is hoping to bring more popularity to it in the UK. ‘Beach volleyball is a massively underrated sport especially in England but around the world in places such as America, Brazil and most other countries in Europe it is very popular. It is an amazing game and a great sport to watch. At the Olympics it is one of the most popular sports as the tickets sell out fast.’ More recently, the Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) is pushing beach volleyball in Asia. With the next Summer Olympics coming up in Tokyo in 2020, beach volleyball in Asia is expected to increase in popularity significantly so hopefully it wont be long till the UK get more involved.
However The International Sports Survey reviewed 80 newspapers from 22 countries and found that 85% of the sports coverage worldwide was male sports so its hard to push women’s sports more now than ever. Moreover, women athletes only receive 7% of all sports coverage in the UK with only 2% of national newspaper sports coverage dedicated to women’s sports! So you would think such a powerful sport like beach volleyball would be praised for having such strong female teams however many have complained that the uniforms for women's beach volleyball are too risqué and do not cover enough. Some have suggested that this is order to attract more attention to the sport. It also doesn’t help that press conferences are often filled with bikini-focused questions rather than talk of medal hopes or team strategies. "Will you promise you will wear bikinis even if it rains?" - A question from a male reporter to UK Olympian Zara Dampney and in 2012, then-London Mayor Boris Johnson referred to "semi-naked women playing volleyball...glistening like wet otters". ‘Yes it can be sexualised due to the uniform we play in. But all these girls are such amazing athletes and playing in a bikini is the only thing you need when playing in such heat.’ Says Ellie ‘If you actually take time to watch the game the level of the sport is amazing. Recognising the skill, determination, ambition, athleticism is something that should be encouraged.’ In 2016 Eygption team players Doaa Elghobashy and Nada Meawad opted for long sleeves, long pants and a hijab during the Olympics, the first ever Muslim women to play this sport in the Olympics. ‘Women should be able to play in what they want, we choose to cover up due to our religious beliefs but if a women wants to wear a tiny bikini thats none of my business, as long as I beat them thats all I care about’ -Doaa Elghobashy
With more and more pressure being put on young girls growing up has never been so hard. You can image the body insecurities Ellie has come across while spending her life in a bikini with all eyes on her, however she has a very positive attitude to it all ‘growing up it’s so hard! I guess I learnt surrounding yourself with people who love you for you are the best people to be around. It does get very competitive (playing alongside a women’s only team) as everyone has to work so hard to compete and win games. But generally the dynamics are supportive and collaborative as you need each other to make it happen. But when it comes to the game it’s war!’
During a match, volleyball players on average jump about 300 times meaning Ellie as too keep seriously fit in order to compete ‘My normal training day would start early with a morning training session on the sand working on skills. I would three times a week do a gym session working on building power and strength and working on improving jump height and speed. In the evening I would take part in another session or competitive games to improve my level of play. But playing on sand is so much more challenging as it is harder to move. To prepare for this up to three times a week I would be doing interval sprinting on the sand to make sure I’m ready to play.’ And it sounds like her diet is no different ‘As an athlete my nutrition is very important I try to have large amounts of protein as I’m always working hard. I love to include tons of fruit and veg.’
When asked about goals Ellie isn’t a normal young women, with ambitions of going to the Olympics she is a true powerhouse of a women with very big dreams ‘This year the goals for me would be to keep improving my strength and level of play. I’m planning to head to California for pre season and get ready for my first competition in May. The Continental Cup first round. This will be the first qualifying round for the Olympics in Tokyo. Throughout the summer I will be competing in World tour events, European U20s and U22 events which we are striving for medals in.’
We can’t wait to see what you get up to Ellie and wish you the best of luck with all your goals.
Inspired by Ellie? Go follow her and see what shes getting up to:
‘It’s such a fun sport for all levels and don’t be afraid to just chuck yourself into it. There are great beach volleyball venues, beach camps and coaches out there.’