Welsh Grand Slam 2022: The Lowdown

The Welsh Grand Slam 2022 returned to Barry Island with a bang in 2022!

This year there was a special focus on community outreach alongside the event with a whole week of community events at Barry before the elite tournament at the weekend.

On the Wednesday, we delivered volleyball to 100 primary school children at the Vale Resort as part of the Gareth Bale Festival of Sport. Then, throughout the week we ran several ‘come and try’ sessions and our first half term camp in Barry Island. We gave over 130 people their first try of beach volleyball. We also estimate that we had over 400 spectators stop by, making the most of the free seating, commentary and high-quality volleyball.

Delivering volleyball at the Gareth Bale Festival of Sport. Photo by Eades Studio

And boy, did the volleyball deliver. Friday was our qualifier day, with teams competing for the last few spots in the main elite draw. These are often where local teams come to the fore, and this was the case here. After a fierce battle, 6 teams qualified: Knott/Eaton (Bournemouth), Morgan/Ionascu (Cardiff University), Daly/Jones (Swansea University), Maghur/Bunton (Cardiff/Brighton), Pollock/Stansbury (Bristol/Salisbury) and Morris/Woodland (Cardiff Beach Volleyball). This was the first time that 14-year-olds Maghur/Bunton had ever qualified for a main draw at a Grand Slam-they are certainly a pairing to watch in the future!

Youngsters Zak Maghur/Lewis Bunton qualified for their first Grand Slam. Photo by Steve Smith.

The weekend was then upon us, meaning the main draw and the battle for the Welsh crown. On the women’s side, tournament favourites and 2021 national champions Tokarenko/Sviridova (London) lived up to their seeding, cruising to the title without dropping a set and dispatching first-time finalists Verdu-Schlie/Mason (Edinburgh) 2-0 in the final, 21-10, 21-14.

Team Fireball athletes Julia Tokarenko/Maria Sviridova won the women’s final. Photo by Steve Smith.

The bronze medal match between Londoners Hayashi/Pelletier and Brightonians Williams/Bugnariu was a much tighter affair, with Williams/Bugnariu losing the first set but emerging as winners in overtime after a three-set thriller. Final scores: 20-22, 21-16, 16-14

Bronze Medal winners Laura Bugnariu/Leasa Williams. Photo by Steve Smith.

The crowd were treated to a thrilling men’s final as the rain came on Sunday, with 2021 national champions and Commonwealth Games 2022 representatives Bello/Bello (London) taking on temporary pairing Lawson/van der Bogert. Once again the game went to overtime, with the Bello brothers clinching the win 17-15 in the third set after a high-quality nailbiter.

Joaquin and Javier Bello overcame Lawson/Van der Bogert to clinch the Welsh Grand Slam title. Photo by Steve Smith.

In the bronze, meanwhile, experienced duo Hunter/Rendon-Peiro overcame Polish pair Konpa/Sobieracki to clinch the third spot 2-0.

Men’s podium: Gold Bello/Bello, Silver Lawson/Van der Bogert, Bronze Hunter/Rendon-Peiro. Shot by Steve Smith

The Welsh Grand Slam will be back with a bang next year! If you want to try out beach volleyball in the meantime, make sure you head to Cardiff Beach Volleyball in Victoria Park, Cardiff.

Huge thanks to the UK Beach Tour, Cardiff Beach Volleyball and the Vale of Glamorgan council for making the event possible this year.

Our event was part of #ThankYouDay2022, when we said thank you to all of the wonderful people who make our sport so special. So we owe a huge thanks to all the volunteers, officials, coaches, photographers players and spectators who make our sport so great. In particular, thanks to Luis, Matt P, Ines, Mercedes, Matt B, Andrew, Sam E, Azlan and Aidan for volunteering. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Saying a huge thank you to the Welsh Grand Slam community! You are all amazing. Steve Smith.

A last last word. We wouldn’t have so many great photos if it weren’t for Malcolm Beadle and Steve Smith, who gave up their weekends to come and watch and shoot the event. If you’d like to see their photos, you can access Steve’s here and Malcolm’s here.

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