Portobello paves the way to Rio

The sands of Portobello will rival the best beaches in Brazil this weekend, as Edinburgh’s seaside welcomes the Beach Volleyball Continental Cup tournament for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

The City of Edinburgh Council’s blue flag beach, which stretches for two miles overlooking the Forth, is going to be the venue for the free-to-watch volleyball tournament on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 September.

To celebrate and to mark the launch of the 2014 Festival of Sport, the council has pledged £4.5k funding towards the tournament and has planned a carnival of come and try sports events.

Working with local clubs, the Festival of Sport will offer spectators free ‘come and try’ volleyball sessions and the chance to meet the athletes. Many members of the local community will be getting involved, with dance performances on offer across the weekend from a host of community groups including Dancersize, Elite Pro, and The Pride.

Water sports including wind sailing will be on offer to try, and the Portobello Sailing & Kayaking Club will be holding a regatta at 2:00pm for the last sail of their season. Edinburgh Leisure will be offering children the opportunity to take part in an ‘aquathon’ at the Portobello Swim Centre.

Local children from Towerbank Primary School will be helping to host the event, acting as ballboys and girls and ‘sand rakers’ to keep the play area smooth. They have been receiving volleyball training this week from former Team GB women’s indoor volleyball Team Captain - and Rio 2016 volleyball hopeful - Lynne Beattie.

Councillor Steve Cardownie, Edinburgh’s Festivals and Events Champion, said: “Following the excitement of the Commonwealth Games, Portobello beach is now paving the way to the Olympic Games in Rio. Who knows, we may even welcome a future medal winner to Edinburgh’s seaside.

“The Continental Cup - which is part of the Olympic beach volleyball qualifying process - will be welcome news for the local Portobello community and sports fans across the capital, and I am delighted that the event marks the launch of the council’s festival of sport. There will be lots to see and do over the weekend.

“The area is already a great spot for sport and is also home to a number of council owned facilities which are managed by Edinburgh Leisure, from the authentic Turkish baths to the Portobello Swim Centre, plus the Portobello Golf Course is a great facility which is used by players of all ages and abilities. I hope local residents come along to take part in the many free sports that will also be on offer at the beach.”

Volleyball player Lynne Beattie said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be selected to represent Scotland at the Continental Cup. To compete for your country is always an honour but to be compete on home soil, in front of a home crowd, at the exact location of our training venue is going to make it extra special.

“Training has been going really well and we are ready to play for a place in the next round, one step closer to Rio 2016. Its gearing up to be a spectacular occasion where we hope to showcase our amazing sport and put Scottish beach volleyball on the world map. With Glasgow 2014 being such a massive success we hope to continue the momentum and the legacy that is now beginning to flourish with regards to sport in Edinburgh, and Scotland.”  

Fellow teammate Shauna Mullin, who went to school in Edinburgh and played in the beach volleyball events at London 2012, said: "This is a great opportunity to showcase beach volleyball in Edinburgh. It's amazing for Scottish volleyball to add an Olympic qualifier to their list of honours as hosts of the Continental Cup.

"Although I have no home in Edinburgh and my parents are still off travelling in far flung places I will always consider Edinburgh my home."

Find out more information on the Continental Cup Beach Volleyball Tournament.

About the Festival of Sport 

· The annual action-packed festival kicks off in the Capital at the weekend, showcasing a huge variety of physical activities between 20 September-5 October.

· Hundreds of free events will run during the two week festival across Edinburgh, including taster sessions, demonstrations and competitions to encourage people of all ages to discover the benefits of an active lifestyle.

· Now in its sixth year, the 2014 programme is bigger and better than ever and is designed to embrace the summer buzz of the Commonwealth Games and appeal to all age groups, fitness levels and abilities.

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