Sand from the beach volleyball stadium outside Horseguards Parade will be used to build 36 new courts within the M25 over the coming months as part of an attempts to build a lasting legacy that will propel Britain towards the next Olympics in Rio.
Officials say funding is needed to make sure that the country's newfound love for the sport – which proved to be one of the most popular hits with the spectators – is capitalised on in the aftermath of the games.
The new courts are being built primarily within the London area under a deal agreed with Locog, the organisers of the games. The sand itself came from a quarry in Surrey. Rather than have it returned, Locog agreed to place it in new courts but only if the cost of transporting it did not exceed the cost of returning it. It means that the vast majority of beach volleyball courts will be in the south of England, but the nation will nonetheless have a significant increase in places where new fans of the sport can play.
A new indoor facility is also being built in Bournemouth along with the National Volleyball Centre in Kettering.
“The fact is five years ago we didn't have these British programmes and what they've achieved has been remarkable,” said BVB president Richard Callicott. “[These players] have been out on the stage, playing against the best players in the world, and they've been more than credible. They've demonstrated that if we have a bit more time to prepare, a bit more energy towards us producing the resources, and if we get the funding, then the British team will be knocking on the door in 2016.”
Britain will have to fight hard to qualify for the Olympic in Rio. For London 2012 they were effectively given guaranteed entry because the UK was the host nation. But in four years time they will have to compete along with everyone else.
In the run up to the games, some criticised the skimpy clothing that female beach volleyball players are expected to wear. But Zara Dampney, who played in TeamGB's women's beach volleyball, said she believed it helped raise the profile of the sport.
“There was a lot of hype before on what we would be wearing and it did build it up,” she told The Independent yesterday. “But I think that was really beneficial for the sport it got people into the stadium, it got people watching it on television to find out what it was all about. It worked in our favour.”