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The Ntaria students recently had the privilege of being able to talk to Australian Olympic beach volleyball player Chris McHugh throughout his Olympic campaign. Chris made an entry into the sport in Year three, opting to participate in Mini Volleyball to get out of clarinet lessons. He soon joined the Henley Hawks Volleyball Club in South Australia to pursue Beach Volleyball further. He made his professional volleyball debut in 2006, at just 17-years-old.  Chris has appeared at three World Championships, attending in 2013, 2015 and 2017. He won his first tournament at the 2012 AVC Beach Volleyball Championships alongside now retired Joshua Slack, with whom he was teammates for two years. He joined forces with Isaac Kapa for four years before finding a partner in Damien Schumann. (info via Olympics website).

The Tokyo Olympics were Chris’s Olympic debut, but he has been on the circuit for a number of years competing. Chris has won the Volleyball Australia inspiration award and been named Australia’s most outstanding player on multiple occasions.

Through videos, Chris was kind enough to show the Ntaria students through the Olympic village, showing them where his training sessions were held and and the venue he competed. He explained that on training days, there were two sessions; one in the morning for an hour, and then another one at night. He also had some practice matches with Japan before the games officially began. The students noticed that the stadiums were big, but no crowds were able to attend. Chris said he enjoyed the experience and he was just happy to be representing Australia there! Chris and his partner played fantastically, and almost took out the number one seeds, in an amazing game!!

With responding videos, the students were keen to ask Chris questions about his career – how long he has been playing volleyball for, and they were even interested in knowing what the food in Tokyo was like as well as what life was like in Tokyo’s athlete village. A lot of the students have not travelled outside the NT, so to see a different country and a completely different culture was fascinating to them! Inspired by Chris’s profession, the students wanted to try to play volleyball, and have since then been playing each week.

The Ntaria community were also happy to show Chris a little bit about their culture. They were keen to show him how to cook damper and roo tails, and explain about the traditions of bush food. And, of course, let him know that AFL football is their number one sport to play!

Chris is very interested in coming up to visit, and will hopefully get up here soon!! Thanks for chatting to us Chris.

Written by Natasha Bennett, Director Ntaria RSAS.

Image via @mchuge89 instagram.