GB volleyball duo start with victory
Shauna Mullin, left, and Zara Dampney came from behind to secure the win
Great Britain's Shauna Mullin and Zara Dampney made a dream start to their Olympic beach volleyball campaign as they defeated Canada's Marie-Andree Lessard and Annie Martin 17-21 21-14 15-13 at Horse Guards Parade.
The British pair prevailed in an absorbing Pool F contest, showing flashes of real quality on their way to a gripping three-set victory.
Mullin and Dampney will take great encouragement from their performance and will hope for more of the same in their next preliminary phase match against Italy's Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti on Tuesday.
Mullin and Dampney have worked hard just to reach the Games, prevailing in a long battle with Denise Johns and Lucy Boulton for the right to represent Team GB, and both looked delighted to finally step out on the Olympic stage.
With excitement running high it was perhaps no surprise that it was the Canadians who settled quickest, jumping into a 3-0 lead as the British pair - the country's first female representatives in this sport at the Olympics since 1996 - wobbled early on.
When the home side did get off the mark on a Mullin spike a huge cheer rang around the Westminster venue, and soon the British pair were back in the hunt, their every point raucously greeted by the soggy but unbowed spectators.
Britain eventually clawed back to within a point at 16-17, but when Mullin served long on the next point the spell was broken and Canada had little trouble in wrapping up the first set.
The sun made an appearance for the start of the second set, and the improved conditions instantly energised Mullin and Dampney, who raced into an early 4-1 lead. Aces and thumping spikes were suddenly a feature of the British team's play and they soon boasted a formidable 14-7 lead as Canada began to look vulnerable.
After a scheduled timeout, the Canadians emerged to rattle off three straight points to suggest that perhaps the second set was not all over. But again GB found it within themselves to stop the rot, and when Mullin's cheeky flick made it 16-11 the second set was as good as in the bag, and then clinched on a Mullin spike at 20-14.
There was nothing between the two sides as they raced out to 11-11. An inventive flick by Mullin made it 12-11, and a similar shot moments later made it 13-12. Mullin spiked again to bring up match point at 14-12, and after spurning one, victory was secured when Dampney's spike was blocked out of bounds, sparking scenes of jubilation in the stands.