The UK Beach Tour played host to a stunning event this weekend in Dorset, as the 2023 Grand Slam Finals took place amongst scorching conditions at Bournemouth Pier.
The glorious sunshine and blistering heat paved the way for a beach volleyball showcase on the south coast, as the country's top teams competed across two days in a bid to secure the national championship.
Crowds gathered in the bespoke grand stand to catch a glimpse of the athletes battling it out on the sand, whilst enjoying the vibrant music and commentary on offer.
In the women’s gold medal match, Team England athlete Jessica Grimson partnered up with Maria Sviridova to take her 5th national championship, as they defeated Team Scotland's Katie Barbour and Rachel Morrision 2-0 (21-19, 21-17). Local athlete Victoria Palmer took the bronze medal alongside her new partner Mhairi Wallace, defeating Mel Coutts and Lynne Beattie of Scotland 2-1 (21-17, 19-21, 15-10).
The men’s gold medal match proved to be a family affair, as Javier and Joaquin Bello (coming off the back of a fifth place finish at this year’s european championships) claimed gold with a 2-0 victory over younger sibling Enrique Bello and his partner Josue Seekings (21-16, 21-12). The bronze medal match was a clash of local talent, with Niko Gleed and Haydn Lawson clinching victory over Harry Jones and Matthew Hunter 2-1 (21-10, 20-22, 15-10).
An event co-hosted by DeepDish Beach Volleyball, the tournament was elevated to new level for it’s third consecutive year, with the investment of headline sponsor the Hendy Group facilitating 4 courts and a grand stand for all spectators; the champions were able to showcase their victory in a vehicle provided by the group, which stood proudly on display all weekend long.
The Hendy MVP awards, presented by Richard Scott of the Hendy Foundation, were awarded to Jessica Grimson and Joaquin Bello. Bournemouth's Vice Chairman Simon Bull was in attendance of the gold medal matches, and after awarding the medals, he joined the athletes for photos and discussed both the success of the event and the rise of beach volleyball in the UK.
Following the medal ceremony, the UKBT athletes and staff joined the tour’s commercial parter Prevented Ocean Plastic to participate in a community driven beach clean as part of the event pack-down; the team spread out across the area to dispose of the litter left behind from both the event and tourists that day, as part of their commitment to running sustainable and eco-friendly events. Local beach goers quickly began to join their efforts as the clean progressed along the shoreline; a beautiful sentiment to the power of sport in the local community.
1st - Jessica Grimson & Maria Sviridova
2nd - Katie Barbour & Rachel Morrison
3rd - Victoria Palmer & Mahairi Wallace
1st - Javier Bello & Joaquin Bello
2nd - Enrique Bello & Josue Seekings
3rd - Niko Gleed & Hayden Lawson