9 August 2017

A duo from Loughborough College have returned from the Bahamas as 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games champions.

Twins Javier and Joaquin Bello took beach volleyball gold for England after winning every set during their five matches – and were selected to be flag bearers at the closing ceremony.

“We did think we might try to both hold the flag as we went round. But in the end, we settled for the more sensible option of taking half a lap each!” said Javier, who studies with his brother on Loughborough College’s Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) Volleyball programme.

The pair turned 17 during the Games – which featured the sport for the first time – and had been prepared for New Zealand, Australia and Cyprus to present the biggest threats.

New Zealand took 18 points off the Bellos during the competition’s first set and they admitted their semi-final, where they beat Australia, was probably their biggest challenge.

“They’d been playing better than us up until that point in the competition”, said Javier. “The games against them and New Zealand were all about avoiding their big block. For Cyprus, [their coach Aden Tutton] switched the game plan so it was all about working around their defender and serving hard on the one weaker player – and it all worked perfectly.”

“It’s definitely the best event we’ve ever played in,” added Joaquin. “We had loads of support throughout from our Team England colleagues, the travelling support, on social media and back at home.

“Being selected to be the flag bearers at the closing ceremony was the icing on the cake, partly because that decision was made by Sarah Winckless, the team’s chef de mission who was herself an Olympic rower, and partly because she had 22 other gold medallists (and 51 in total) to choose from.”

Javier and Joaquin were back training the day after they arrived home, with competitions in Spain and Russia coming and more immediate preparation for this weekend’s Youth Continental Cup In Cyprus, where they’re aiming to qualify for the Youth Olympics.

Tom Boxall, who co-ordinates the AASE Volleyball programme at Loughborough College, said: “We are thrilled to see Javier and Joaquin bring home gold for England.

“Both players are extremely busy with events and competitions throughout the year as part of the Richmond Volleyball Academy but each has shown great commitment as a student with our AASE programme at Loughborough College.

“Javier and Joaquin’s success highlights the AASE programme’s importance in helping to assist elite athletes in their performance and in preparing them for a potential career at the top of their sport.”

For more information contact Elizabeth Udall, Communications Consultant, Loughborough College on 07515 852690 or elizabethudall1@gmail.com

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